The Tongue


On a windswept hill in an English country churchyard stands a drab, gray slate tombstone. Bleak and unpretentious, it leans slightly to one side, beaten slick and thin by the blast of time. The quaint stone bears an epitaph not easily seen unless you stoop over and look closely.

The faint etchings read: “Beneath this stone, a lump of clay, lies Arabella Young, who, on the 24th of May, began to hold her tongue.”

The tongue. What a study in contrasts! To the physician it’s merely a complex array of muscles and nerves that enable our bodies to chew, taste, and swallow. How helpful! Equally significant, it is the major organ of communication that enables us to articulate sounds so we can understand each other. How essential!

The tongue is as volatile as it is vital.

Washington Irving said, “A sharp tongue is the only edge tool that grows keener with use.”

And James said, “The tongue is a fire, a restless evil and full of deadly poison.”

I have had to apologize for my words many times. But I have never had to apologize for my silence.


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