Choose Your Words Well
A certain good woman one day said something that hurt her best friend of many
years. She regretted it immediately, and would have done anything to have taken the
words back. But they were said, impulsively, in a moment of thoughtlessness, and as
close as she and her friend were, she didn't consider the effects of her words before
hand. What she said hurt the friend so much that this good woman was herself hurt
for the pain she caused.
In her effort to undo what she had done, she went to an older, wiser woman in the village.
Explaining her situation, and asked for advice. The older woman listened
patiently in an effort to determine just how sincere the younger woman was, how far she
was willing to go to correct the situation.
She explained that sometimes, in order to put things back in order, great efforts must be
made. She then asked: "Just what would you be willing to do, to repair the harm
done?" The answer was heartfelt. "Anything." Listening to
her, the older woman, sensed the younger woman's distress, and knew she must help her.
She also knew she could never alleviate her pain by living her life for her, but
she could teach, if the younger woman would first listen, and then learn. She knew
the outcome would depend solely on the character of the younger woman.
She said, "There are two things needed to be done to make amends. The first of
the two is extremely difficult. Tonight, take your best feather pillows, and open a
small hole in each one. Then, before the sun rises, you must put a single feather on
the doorstep of each house in town. When you are through, come back to me. If
you've done the first thing completely, I'll tell you the second."
The young woman hurried home to prepare for her chore, even though the pillows were very
dear to her, very expensive. All night long she labored alone in the cold. She
went from doorstep to doorstep, taking care not to overlook a single house. Her
fingers were frozen, the wind was so sharp it caused her eyes to water, but she ran on,
darkened streets, thankful there was something she could do to put things back the way
they once were. Finally, as the sky was getting light, she placed the last feather
on the steps of the last house.
Just as the sun rose, she returned to the older woman. She was exhausted, but
relieved that her efforts would be rewarded. "My pillows are empty. I
placed a feather on the doorstep of each
Now, said the wise woman, "Go back and refill your pillows. Then everything
will be as it was before."
The young woman was stunned. "You know that's impossible! The wind blew
away each feather as fast as I placed them on the doorsteps!! You didn't say I had
to get them back!! If this is the second requirement, then things will never be the
"That's true", said the older woman.
"Never forget. Each of your words is like a feather in the wind. Once
spoken, no amount of effort, regardless how heartfelt or sincere, can ever return them to
your mouth. Choose your words well, and guard them most of all in the presence of
those you love."