The big feast is over, and hopefully everyone got through the meal with as much graciousness and gratefulness as possible! All week I have been offering suggestions for holy conversation, for time to really share with each other despite our differences, to do the work of peace. I hope that taking the time to listen, feel, and thank has lowered the stress and increased the real caring at your gatherings. My final thought on having conversations on tricky topics is this: give. After you have truly listened to your neighbor, after you have located your own feelings on what they have said, after you have thanked them for their sharing, then comes time to offer your own thoughts, your own gift of words.

And it is a gift. How we see the world and its complicated and beautiful issues is important. Sometimes I think our conversations - written and spoken, in person, in writing, online - would be much more productive if we always remembered the weight and the power of our words. What you say and how you say it can bring someone closer or push them away, can build bridges or destroy them, can enlighten or isolate. You have the power to make someone else laugh or cry or think or close off, all with your words.

'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.' Jesus himself is referred to as God's Word. How we wield our language is a holy task, a faithful one, a ministry. It is a reflection of the love that made us and saves us.

So in these troubled and anxious times, when you think to yourself, 'how can I possibly make this better?', remember this: you can give your own thoughts, your own encouragement, solutions, arguments, support, stories and memories. Your words can make a difference. Use them.