Make them talk

by Christine Berglund

I guess it started with the wildflowers we knew as “Butter and Eggs,” also commonly called “Toadflax.” Linaria Vulgaris, a member of the Snapdragon family, had been brought to America from Europe, and grows wild.

The yellow colors are reminiscent of butter and eggs, although the blooms are smaller than the cultivated variety, or “Snapdragons.”

When I was little, my mother showed me how to gently squeeze the sides of the blossom to make them open. Releasing the pressure would close it up again, as the flower resembled a bizarre mouth with a swollen lower lip and a rather grouchy face.

You have to know just where on the flower to press your fingers, but not too strongly as to crush it.

All we needed to add was a little childhood imagination, and voila! There was someone to talk to. Oh, I had brothers to talk to, but they mostly teased me – well — they still do. There was a good reason for me to escape to the world of toadflax conversations while I was little!

Our society puts a lot of value on communicating. When cell phones didn’t work during the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, legislation was demanded so that the service would not be interrupted. Those who had electricity shared it to charge cell phones of strangers. Being in touch with one another is vital.

While too many words can be as overwhelming as four bullying brothers, real communication is essential.

We have found communication by mail, television, phone, and internet invaluable in important decisions we make; from what walking shoes to buy, to making an informed decision on choosing a president.

While some of my discussions with friends have been very lively, they have not been mean-spirited as some. It is rather sad that some people have chosen not to communicate at all about matters that affect us all.

Wouldn’t it be better to learn to converse in civil tones?

The happy pastime of talking with snapdragons has been passed on to my own children. The youngest, while not a flower collector like her Mom, still loves snapdragons for that “fun factor.” Whenever we have these flowers around, she asks me to “make them talk.” We both have a good laugh!

Her real treasure is that she is a good communicator. Not in the comic-strip voices we employ for our snapdragon faces, but words that are good, pure, and edify the hearer. Words that can help others to understand what they need to know. Words that will build up and encourage people. She has her moments otherwise, to be sure; but we all do.

I sometimes worry about my words. The rebuke of the Lord to Job is frankly a little scary to me.

“Why do you talk so much when you know so little?” (Job 38:2 CEV)

Those of us who use words on a regular basis have to be careful what words we use, and how we use them. However, that should never be an excuse not to communicate fully with those we love and to people we come in contact with that need our friendship and help. As a naturally shy person, it would be easier for me to remain a wallflower, seldom speaking and noticed even less.

Take time this week to talk to somebody, or just to listen. Yes, listening is communication, too. Tell your children and your parents you love them.

Ask how somebody’s day has been. Talk to God. Ask him for the wisdom to help you talk. And get some snapdragons. They’re fun. Make them talk!

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