Friday 29 March

 7For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God.

10From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.

My “tongue” is like a machine. It runs on its own power. I hear words come forth from my mouth that appear to have been formed as if by their own volition. “He blurted out…” is a common expression describing a reality with which most of us at times are familiar, frequently to our great regret.

This machine is oriented towards death; it is “full of deadly poison.” With it I “curse those who are made in the likeness of God.”

But, at the same time, there is another force at work driving my “tongue.” “With it” I “bless the Lord and Father”.

James is simply making a statement of fact, “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.” And I share his frustration, “this ought not to be so.” It should not be like this. I do not want to be this divided being pulling in two directions at the same time. But, the truth is, it is “so.” I do bless and I do curse.

I cannot undo the reality of the dark side and live only in uninterrupted light. It seems, for some strange reason, that we are designed to journey through life with both “cursing” and “blessing” as tools we use to make our way.

I cannot change this reality of the human condition. But I can see it and be honest about it. I can acknowledge those times when I cater to the “cursing” side and, perhaps in the moment of seeing, I will shift back toward “blessing.” And perhaps, seeing in myself the tendency to both “bless” and “curse,” I may be more compassionate towards those from whom at times I hear harmful and destructive words.