I have always had a bit of a secret love affair with velvet. I remember my mother having a beautiful claret coloured velvet skirt suit when I was young and I could never understand why she wouldn't wear it. It had been a gift from my father and I remember her saying that it was ugly. I personally thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen and I would sneak into her room to look at it and touch it. In my early 20's velvet became fashionable again and I was so excited! Even more so I was excited by the fact that I was working and could buy my very own velvet trouser suit! I wore it to death of course just to make up for lost time and before velvet went back out of fashion...which it did.
I think my love of velvet is comparable to carrying a flame for my father who died in my early teens. I knew the claret velvet suit must have cost him lot of money. I hardly ever saw him because he worked all the time and so I felt, even as a young child, that I appreciated all that the velvet suit represented, not to mention I saw it as a sign of love, a gift from his heart. I was shocked to hear how much my mother disliked it and I recall feeling a stab at my own heart as she whispered her dislike of it to me. As a result, I have always hated the thought of someone buying clothes for me and throughout my entire life I have told everyone never to buy me clothes, ever. No exceptions, not even for anything made of velvet. The sole reason for this is that I have never wanted to hurt someone by my dislike of something they took the loving time to choose for me.
The sight of a colleague in velvet pants recently brought my mind back to my mothers claret velvet skirt suit. Her simple words spoken to me as a child had settled inside me and have shaped my thoughts to this very day. Words can have such a lasting effect on anyone as we know. We have all said things during our lives and either had no realisation of the impact they had, or perhaps we did, then instantly wanted to take them back...which is of course impossible. Every bad word uttered, or written will leave its imprint. You may have been on the receiving end of many a harsh word at some point in your life, or even words that were not spoken harshly but which still cut deep like a knife. The effects can last a lifetime, even ultimately steer a soul to take their own life.
Rumi teaches us to refrain from speaking ill of anyone ever. He goes so far as to say that we are obligated to hide the faults of others, by not speaking ill of them. When we let go of the "what's in it for me" thought process it is easier to think about our words before they leave our mouths. Learn to detach yourself from your expected outcome. It is better to be silent than to speak ill of another. Even better, say something from a place of love or nothing at all. Learn to listen rather than just hear. Most of us hear what we think we want to hear then respond, but stop and ask yourself what someone is really trying to say when they gossip? Are they feeling vulnerable or lonely themselves? What is really being said when someone screams words of anger? Are they feeling threatened, or powerless? From really listening we can use our words to heal rather than escalate and prolong fear. If you find yourself bombarded by someone who continues to speak badly of others, who judges people and condemns them, ask them to stop. If you feel that is too harsh begin to stay quiet instead of being caught up in their storm. Soon enough they will realise you won't be dragged into their drama any longer.
Words are what shape us and the world around us, good and bad. Words can range from those as soft and nurturing as velvet to those which are corrosive as acid and all manner of in between, but they all come from our own mouths and that means we have the choice to speak words of honey or speak words of vinegar. Try focusing more and more on your words every day, taking care to ensure they instill love into every situation.
"It is a Sufi teaching that one of the human being's greatest endowments is the power of the word. It is given to us as a token of the Creative Power that has been vested in every human being." tells Kabir Helminsk in Rumi on the Heart's Journey.
The power of the word in our everyday lives is far greater than we give thought to. We think we are separate from the headlines we read and the news we hear which is full of words of fear, but in reality we may be doing more damage on a hourly basis with words falling carelessly from our very own mouths. Ask yourself each day and throughout the day, are you weaving words of velvet that will enrich your life and that of others; or are you dripping words of acid that no matter how small, are causing pain and torment?