The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone

sidewalk stencil

Stenciled on a sidewalk, 24th and Mission, San Francisco, CA, 2006

The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone. “She never knew how I loved her.” “He never knew what he was to me.” “I always meant to make more of our friendship.” “I did not know what he was to me till he was gone.” Such words are the poisoned arrows which cruel Death shoots backward at us from the door of the sepulchre.

How much more we might make of our family life, of our friendships, if every secret thought of love blossomed into a deed! We are not now speaking merely of personal caresses. These may or may not be the best language of affection. Many are endowed with a delicacy, a fastidiousness of physical organization, which shrinks away from too much of these, repelled and overpowered. But there are words and looks and little observances, thoughtfulnesses, watchful little attentions, which speak of love, which make it manifest, and there is scarce a family that might not be richer in heart-wealth for more of them.

by Harriet Beecher Stowe (June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896)
from Little Foxes or, The insignificant little habits which mar domestic happiness (1866)
Chapter III; Repression
image – Franco Folini

Sentimental Bravery and Everyday Creativity

If you’re here, you can read and write to some degree. What do you want to do with those skills? What do you wish you could do… or what are you putting off for the wrong reasons?

One of my goals with this site is to encourage literacy, and I’m not just talking I-can-read literacy. I’m talking cultural literacy, compassion, curiosity about the human condition. I serve up a few paragraphs at a time, with enough context to make a connection, but not so much that the quote is hard to see in a different context: your context. Nobody here now speaks like Harriet Beecher Stowe, 18th century abolitionist. Some of what she knew is lost to us. However, though some things will change, some core essence is universal, in our own history and across the world. We have families, jobs, faith, hobbies, illness… we get sad and give up, and yet we always want more.

For most of us, reading and writing is an everyday, matter-of-fact skill. We write to make grocery lists, that sort of thing. Reading beyond the everyday broadens our thinking, and I know it’s helped my writing. Makes sense, yes? – writing is a way of sharing life.

Write to someone today. Tell them something good. It doesn’t have to be much – thank-you notes count! You have so much light at your fingertips, so much to see and love and share.

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