More than anything else, marketers play with words. Invent them. Embellish them. String them together in luscious archipelagos that excite and tug at the mind, emotions and spur people to action.
We can take the drab, the dull, and the meaningless and vest it with importance, power, sex appeal — whatever will move the dynamics of the marketplace. We can sell anything with the force of our imagination and the words that flow from it.
But then, out of nowhere, comes a tragedy for which words have no meaning. Where they fall flat on their face, useless in the face of the dark mysteries of life.
Last week I offered to speak at the funeral of my best friend’s son. Even as I did so, I knew that I could not live up to the true test of what I was volunteering for: no one would be comforted, the life would still be lost, the hearts would still be broken, the parents’ lives shattered. My talk would be just sounds, a formality, a honorable attempt to have a positive impact but an honorable failure just the same.
Sometimes there are no words.
Or are there? In the heavy tearful silence of the sanctuary, the father, my dear friend, rose and spoke to his son and then to God in a way that shook the room and turned the earth on its axis. It was not a formal speech. It lacked traditional structure. It had no beginning or end. It was a man, girding himself against the bolt that had struck him, his wife and his younger boy, simply asking God “Why?” and searching for his son in a wailing plea he knew could not be answered.
It was brave and fine and strong and heart wrenching. And it proved that there are words when they are shaped by the passion of the moment and the heart that is true.