In my library are a number of books that say things about talking. One book by Kahlil Gibran, entitled 'The Prophet' says, "You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts; and when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime. And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered. For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly. There are those among you who seek the talkative through fear of being alone. The silence of aloneness reveals to their eyes their naked selves and they would escape." The poem goes on for a few more paragraphs but the words that stick with me is the last line that says, "His soul will keep the truth of your heart as the taste of the wine is remembered when the color is forgotten and the vessel is no more."
To me, this reminds me of the hurt that people do to one another; something I see on a daily basis in my law practice. My experience tells me to look for evidence and ignore the words, as in one of Donnie Hathaway's songs that says, "The truth is in there hiding." We adults have all heard the saying that "money talks and B.S. walks." Or as my old Law school Dean said to me once when talking about trusting another man when the choice is between money and love, "Never trust a man's love, only his actions."
Now that I can say I'm officially an old man and may say anything for which "I will not apologize", in recent years I have observed some of the greatest injustices in Christian Churches that I have ever seen in my 70 years of having to do with money. I am reminded of the Prophet's poem on talk and the Dean's words on trust. I passed copies of The Prophet to each of my sons so they will have a reference to the world and people and to the church. In the poem about talk, they know that if they have an inheritance to leave or a gift to give, be careful where you give it. Give it where they will do what you want with your money and give it where they will let the world know that you left your gift. Don't worry about what people will say about you questioning the motives of the recipient of the gift. People in Jesus' time talked about Jesus, but he turned over the tables of the money changers when they used the temple for personal financial gain.
On a personal level this week, I settled a case of racial discrimination against a state organization for which I will be paid. I believe in giving back whether it's called tithes or whatever. However, if there is evidence that my gift will merely benefit a few individuals, I am obedient to my mother's teachings. She taught me that (a) God has already blessed me for doing His will in helping others who are mistreated; in this case because they were Black. In other cases on the horizon, because they were mistreated by the police. And (b) I can spend my own money just as well as some board of trustees who are afraid to stand up to a so-called leader. Besides, I have three sons and seven grandchildren. They are also my church and my ministry. They all have needs for money, not more talk, and they look to me for guidance, plus I can get an audit of what they do with the money. Can I get an "Amen"?
I don't want to leave this column without quoting from another book in my collection called, 'This is my Beloved' by Walter Benton. Benton in this little book of only 43 pages wrote a series of love letters to his loved one in 1943. Benton in one chapter says to his love, "...Speak that I may fill my ears with you." That line is great for someone looking for love and words alone. I need more than just words, because man cannot live by words alone. Benton's next line says "Stay near me, so...that I may fill my lungs with you." There is only one person I need to stay near to me and she has stayed for 49 years. I put that part in there to show you that if there needed to be an audit of that love, there is evidence in the 49 years. If I go any further that would be giving TMI. So again, Amen!