Think about the last time words moved you. A quote that had you reaching for pen and paper; wedding vows that made your heart stop, or a speech that rocked you to greater goals.
In September, 2011, we took a trip to Italy and Greece. Many moments there were powerful in their own right – treading the same stones that Julius Caesar had at the Roman Forum? Hard to wrap my mind around. Dining in the shadow of the Colosseum? Everything tasted better with such a spectacular view!
And walking between the immense columns of the Parthenon, staring out over the rooftops of Athens left me silent. Do modern-day Athenians take this view for granted? Forget that one of the world’s most iconic images looms above, day after day, watching?
One of the most powerful moments came on the last day of the trip. We woke, excited to be finally heading home, but torn by the the whisper of unrealized opportunities: new foods to try, side streets to explore and the endless, thrilling possibilities of just one more day in a foreign country.
In a room overlooking the Aegean Sea, we gathered to say goodbye to our traveling companions, scattering across the world to homes in New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and the United States. In the middle of goodbyes, the lady from Egypt stopped me.
Until now, we hadn’t exchanged much more than pleasantries, but I had seen her kindness to others: a woman from California lacked the necessary shoulder covering to enter The Vatican, so the Egyptian lady loaned her a beautiful scarf; she ate meals with different people and carried on friendly conversations with each person.
But now it was my turn. She grabbed my hands and started speaking in what I assumed was Arabic. She knew English – I heard her accented English many times on our trip – but for some reason, she spoke to me now in Arabic.
As I stood there, holding her hands, feeling the power of her words, a sudden comprehension flooded me with the knowledge that this was a blessing. I felt the power of that blessing reach across cultures, languages, and generations, straight from her heart and through my hands.
She finished, smiled, and walked back to her husband. I opened my mouth to call her back, to ask her to repeat the words in English, but I stopped.
The language didn’t matter; the power of her words did.
When have words changed you? Left you a little bit different than you were before you heard them?