“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
   — E. E. Cummings

When I came upon e. e. cummings’ words today, I knew it was a perfect time to talk about encouragement.  Every one of us has people who are part of our lives now, or who were part of our past, who have offered us the encouragement we need to discover that we are capable, worthwhile, and valuable members of society.  Our parents, of course, should be on that list; but even when parents forget to tell us about the beauty that lives inside us, it is inevitable that one day – more, if we are lucky – someone will come along who has the vision to see what is valuable, lasting, and true.

At a very low point in my life, a place I try not to remember too vividly, I had reached out a hand to someone in need.  The service I provided seemed trivial at the time; and in the context of the messages I had been receiving about my own worth, it really seemed without significance.  The recipient of my good deed responded with gratitude, which I suppose we come to expect; but then she took it a step further:  “Thank you,” she said, “that was very generous.”

“Generous?”  Me?  That was generous.  I am generous!  Her words named something deep inside of me, and all the memories of generosity given and received flooded me in that moment.  ‘Yes!’ I thought.  ‘I am generous.’  I had forgotten that, and her kind word redefined me in that moment.  Since that day, I have tried to remember to name the goodness that comes my way.

“Your kindness is so very appreciated.”

“That was a compassionate thing that you did.”

“I feel such gratitude to have you as my friend.”

How remarkable it is to consider the way a well-chosen word might open our eyes to something hidden away deep inside us!  How empowering it is to consider that we, too, can choose to speak the true words of encouragement — those that name the best parts of another person so that they can hear who they are.

Let us be about unleashing the human spirit and letting it shine brightly, right in the light of day.  Let us encourage one another, because we are brothers and sisters.  Let us remember to call forth the very best from each person we meet.