Monthly Archives: August 2003

The Perfect Speech of Motion

In A Dialog of Watching, poet Kenneth Rexroth describes watching his wife’s “perfect speech of motion.” I really like that metaphor: motion as speech. Or, more generally: action as communication.

There is sometimes a difference between what we say with words and what we meant to communicate, but the speech of motion is less likely to be misconstrued. Our children and spouses — everyone — can not only hear but also see and experience what we’re trying to say. It’s like finding words to comfort a friend at a funeral: no one remembers what you said; all anyone remembers is that you came.

The phrase “speech of motion” succinctly captures what I’ve been thinking lately about the expression of my own Christian beliefs. This particular train of thought began when I read a line from a hymn that said, “Christian, rise and act thy creed; let thy prayer be in thy deed.” [Full lyric at]

Let thy prayer be in thy deed. Let my prayers be evident by what I do. Prayers of thanksgiving for my wife; prayers of security for my growing daughter; prayers of comfort and support for my sick friend; prayers for the daily bread of the poor and the oppressed and the imprisoned. Stop talking about it and do it. If I’m not willing to get up off my butt to help with something then I shouldn’t expect that my prayers about it will be effective either.



Wendy Cope via

Some men never think of it.
You did. You’d come along
And say you’d nearly brought me flowers
But something had gone wrong.

The shop was closed. Or you had doubts-
The sort that minds like ours
Dream up incessantly. You thought
I might not want your flowers.

It made me smile and hug you then.
Now I can only smile.
But, look, the flowers you nearly brought
Have lasted all this while.

This poem was in my inbox on Monday. The first stanzas perfectly capture a scene that Tina and I have enacted countless times from both sides. And the arrival of the poem was apropos because I didn’t yet have a card for Tina’s birthday on Tuesday.

In fact, though I tried, I never managed to get a birthday card for her this year. I didn’t forget her birthday — I got her gifts from me and even took Cora shopping to get some gifts from baby to mommy — I just never managed to get a card to go with them.

This isn’t the first time this has happened: Mother’s Day was the same story.

Love forgives. People change. Hope remains.