Are these people for real? Are they just pretending? Because if they are not... No wonder... Okay, I am not going to finish either of those sentences. You can just feel in the blank with your own thoughts.
Well, I wanted to print the whole letter, but if I understand the copyrights correctly (which is doubtful truthfully), I think I can only put down my very favoritest sentences. :) Oh. What in the world am I talking about you want to know? One of my heroes. And his friendship. And their language.
A few years ago, my friend and I discovered a fun actor was going to be in a new movie. Yipee, we exclaimed. We saw previews, were intrigued and on opening day we went and saw "Amazing Grace." And we all fell in love. Why had I never heard Wilberforce's name before? Maybe I had, but never to notice. Certainly not in any kind of educational way.
After falling in love with the movie of course I wanted to know how accurate it was because if it was even close to accurate, well WOW! I would have a hero to add to my list of heroes. So I found a book entitled "Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and His Heroic Campaign to End Slavery" by Eric Metaxas. And I fell in love all over again. I highly recommend the book. Not only is it informative, but it is well-written and the biographer treats his subject with great respect. (A trait that seems rare with biographers.)
So this whole message is not really about William Wilberforce, but rather about language. Or feelings. Or maybe what stand we to lose with texting? Or maybe it's all the free long-distance. Okay. I will spit it out. Wilberforce was trying to make a big decision and sought his great friend William Pitt's advice. I wanted to share a little bit of the beauty with you, thus part of Pitt's answering letter to Wilberforce:
"I am indeed too deeply interested in whatever concerns you not to be very sensibly affected by what has the appearance of a new era in your life, and so important in its consequences for yourself and your friends. As to any public conduct which your opinions may ever lead you to, I will not disguise to you that few things could go nearer my heart than to find myself differing from you essentially on any great principle.
"I trust and believe that it is a circumstance which can hardly occur. But if it ever should, and even if I should experience as much pain in such an event, as I have found hitherto encouragement and pleasure in the reverse, believe me it is impossible that it should shake the sentiments of affection and friendship which I bear towards you, and which I must be forgetful and insensible indeed if I ever could part with. They are sentiments engraved in my heart, and will never be effaced or weakened...
"...What I would ask of you, as a mark both of your friendship and of the candour which belongs to your mind, is to open yourself fully and without reserve to one, who, believe me, does not know how to separate your happiness from his own... I am sure you will not wonder if I am inquisitive on such a subject. The only way in which you can satisfy me is by conversation. There ought to be no awkwardness or embarrassment to either of us, tho' there may be some anxiety.... Believe me, affectionately and unalterably yours..."
Aren't those beautiful sentiments. Aren't they beautifully expressed? As I listened to that part of this letter being read, I was struck with the deep friendship which existed between the two men but also mourned that such beauty in language might be lost. I am comforted that I know several people who can and do write beautifully. There is something about the way a thought is written that colors the thought itself. In fact... Okay, this is already long, so if you are still with me, I'll just go ahead and continue the thought.
The Dean of Humanities at BYU, John R. Rosenberg, wrote an article for the Spring 2010 Alumni Magazine. Again, I wish I would reprint the whole thing, but I will limit myself to two thoughts. [And for those of you interested, I think in a couple of months, the full article will be available at http://human.byu.edu/magazine.]
First, he quoted Erasmus. "Just as dress and outward appearance can enhance or disfigure the beauty and dignity of the body, so words can enhance or disfigure thought. Accordingly a great mistake is made by those who consider that it makes not difference how anything is expressed, provided it can be understood....Our first concern should be to see that the garment is clean, that it fits, and that it is not wrongly made up. It would be a pity to have people put off by a spotty, dirty garment, when the underlying form is itself is [sic] good."
Then, he sums up: "My mother taught me years ago that our speech reflects and affects how we think about others. Made as we are in the image of God, unique among his creations as users of speech, covenant followers of 'The Word,' we tool language to edify and to reconcile, to heal and to make at-one. I think this is what Paul meant when he wrote to the Colossians: 'Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man' (4:6)."
I feel inadequate in my own writing to express such thoughts, but...