Mary Garner is a published author and dedicated philanthropist. Her work includes a best selling book, The Hidden Souls of Words, and three workbooks on: Anger, Love, and Forgiveness. In coordination, she has authored articles on Anger and Violence Prevention.
Her writing career has been bolstered by her multiple avenues of study. Mary holds degrees in religion and theology, clinical psychology, and international law. Her diverse interests and the overarching desire to be of service have led to teaching, human rights advocacy, counseling, disarmament negotiating, dispute resolution, and global efforts of interfaith cooperation and peace-building.
Many life experiences have profoundly demonstrated to her how good can come from what may look impossible on the surface. Her most recent book, Calling All Angels; Taxi to a New Eden is inspired by mind expanding experiences and coincidences that are powerful, uplifting, awe-inspiring and in certain instances lifesaving. In 1985, Mary established a foundation, HOPE, INC., which continues to address both the material and spiritual needs of children and their caregivers. The majority of the proceeds from her published work go to charitable programs. She lives in Washington, DC and has three grown sons.
An Interview with Mary
You say that words have ‘souls’. What exactly does that mean? And is it true for all words? Words have profound dynamic spiritual roots and thus a ‘power’ that I think of as their ‘souls’. The ‘souls’ inherent within the words we use are part of the ‘creative impulse’ embedded in the Divine origin of everything. This truth has been overlooked by many of us in our time…the ancient origin and mystery have become shrouded and/or obscured. For instance, the word ‘word’ itself means – Divine logos, universal intelligence, active Word of God. The evidence is that all of our words are divinely inspired…and emanate from this intelligence and from the freedom inherent in the use of that intelligence. Words were created by those who came before us to assist us in maintaining our connection with God and with one another…the connection created in us from the beginning. Poets and wise teachers have understood the spiritual power of words throughout the ages. For example, Alfred Lloyd Tennyson wrote, “Words like nature half reveal and half conceal the soul within.”
Is this a religious book? Does it seek an exclusively religious/spiritual audience? Not necessarily. Words are a universal, vital medium inclusive of everyone everywhere, common in every field of life. My book embraces the foundations of all ideologies and disciplines. It, in a general way, takes into account and is inclusive of all wisdom and truth wherever it is found, whether it be theological, scientific, or secular in focus. Therefore, I would hope that everyone in any endeavor would find it helpful and enlightening.
What import do the souls of our words have for our day to day lives? What does the reader stand to gain from familiarizing him-or-herself with the ‘souls’ of words? This book is about each of us accepting responsibility for our lives…recognizing the ability each of us have been given to be creative and transformative. It demonstrates how we do co-create the world around us especially with our words. The words we use everyday have an astounding impact on our lives. They are the basic building blocks of history, culture and civilization…even simple conversation. We live in a relative world, one of duality, and of many opposites. It is obvious from what we see, hear, and from what is happening around us that humanity needs a more creative way to communicate, one that is non-divisive. We are in constant need of deepening our spiritual lives. Consequently, a deeper understanding of word’s ‘souls’ can lead to a more enlightened consciousness, which in turn can help bring healing and transformation wherever it is needed and called for. The hope is the result will be the formation of better relationships and dialogue…which in turn will lead to the building of a more humane and peaceful world.
Why undertake the task of writing this book now? Why at all? (i.e., What led you to write this book?) Communication is at the heart of what makes the world run! Today’s world calls out for a new understanding of the true meaning and power of the words we use everyday. There is widespread confusion in the world concerning the interpretation of many words. One reason I began writing about my discoveries from a study of words was to gain insight into my own life and about my relationships with other people, for personal guidance. From early childhood, I have always carried questions about the meaning of words. I wanted to probe beyond the etymology to the deeper meaning…and simply could not find peace within myself until I found that meaning and shared the discovery. Robert Penn Warren wrote, “Yes, why all the years, and places, and nights, have I wandered and not known the question, I carried? And carry?” In short, I felt ‘inspired’ to write The Hidden Souls of Words for my own edification and I feel honored to share these insights with others.
What has this work meant to you, in your turns as counselor, government negotiator, teacher and/or parent? I know from my experience how important the understanding and effective use of words is, both in my personal and professional lives. Conflicts are inevitable and a great deal depends on how I deal with conflict. I believe this is true of everyone. A real understanding of words’ ‘souls’ is at the root of our ability to live and interact together with civility and creativity, with meaning and purpose. I have often counseled and had conversations with people who found it meaningful to explore how the words they used were causing what seemed like unresolvable conflicts in their relationships, in fact, which often was the opposite of what they wanted to create for their lives. Exploring many everyday words resulted in a deepening growth and enhancement of their lives and relationships, and led them to the discovery of their life’s true passion and purpose. As a government arms control negotiator in talks with other countries, it became ever so clear that our words are in reality a matter of significant consequence, sometimes leading to life or death decisions. This can also be true between and among departments or agencies within a government where numerous ‘turfs’ are constantly being defended. I have come to realize, as the book emphasizes, that the importance of our words is true and applies in every context involving human beings, personal relationships and the broader arena of international relations. Sharing the insights from The Hidden Souls of Words with my family, and trying to live them, has allowed for more effective and loving communication…and enhanced our lives in a very positive way. If I had known from the beginning what I know now, I could have done a much better job of communicating with my husband and children, as well as other members of our extended family.
Have the Divine qualities of words helped you, offering you solace in times of doubt or trouble? Being sensitive to the ‘inner’ or Divine qualities of words has enabled me to tap into the mysterious, universal Intelligence (I mentioned earlier, when I spoke of the soul of the word ‘word’) that is both beyond us and also within us. All we can do is honor the mystery of this. It is beyond our human comprehension. This is a gift that helps me to see how words connect us, even when we may feel isolated from our Source and/or from one another. This learning has been a tremendous strengthening and reassuring force for me.
According to Whitney Strieber, scientists have recently uncovered the possibility that the ‘God particle’ they have been searching for, that would explain why matter has ‘mass’, may not be an actual particle at all, but instead is probably some form of consciousness or intelligence. This confirms what many of us have already experienced. When we created the word..’word’..in the beginning, we must have been aware of this intelligence or transcendence that is so much a part of who we are, but as human beings, also beyond us.
For instance, it has been very helpful to gain insight into the word, love, which from its origin can be equated with our life’s Source, the Divine mystery. The ‘soul’ of the word, mystery, I discovered, means ‘Divine secret’. Love can be experienced, but never completely understood or defined. We are said to be made in the powerful image and likeness of this Love, or God, or whatever you call our Source. There have been times when I have doubted ‘my power’ to make any significant difference in our world with my life. Apparently, others share this self-doubt on occasion, but such feelings are definitely false and misleading. When we become deeply aware that our essence is indeed, Love…and it is from this center of power (the soul of the word power ‘potis’ means…the ability to act) that we all have come into being…we then have no need to search for it outside of ourselves. Of course, this power that we share with others can be abused or misused…or even stifled…by fear…, but it will manifest either consciously or unconsciously in either positive or negative ways. For instance, when we say, “I love you”, but our actions negate the words we speak.
In the book, I have linked power and humility which may seem paradoxical, but I find that this is where ‘truth’ lies most of the time. As human beings, are ‘paradox’ itself! Humility is not doubt of our own power, rather the acknowledgement of the power at work through us, but not owned by us! We need to acknowledge that the consequences of the use of this power, because of our advanced technology, is more dramatic and dangerous than at any time in history.
There are, of course, many other words in the book that I could point to that are helpful to learn about. For example, the word, anger….which can turn either inward, leading to depression, or project outward, usually leading to violence. (Even drug abuse and alcoholism are connected here, since such addiction can be considered a form of violence against oneself.) The positive, creative use of this commonly expressed emotion has to do in its ‘soul’ with distress, with sorrow, with grief… and with the alleviation of the same in our relationships and in our world. Just think how different the outcome might have been had the young people who committed such horrific, violent acts could have beforehand talked out their anger or frustration, or the fears that underlie these emotions, with a trusted person who listened deeply; who could help them see that anger is a normal human emotion; and who could help them reduce and channel their emotions in a positive direction; perhaps showing them how they could use their pain and concerns to help alleviate the suffering of others…so they could feel useful and of value in the world…so they could feel their life made a difference. What is the most important thing readers can take away from their experience with The Hidden Souls of Words? Most important of all is to recognize, gain, or come to an awareness of the intention and deeper meaning behind our words, the tremendous power inherent in them, and how we affect one another with them…also examine to see if misinterpretations are happening.
Our focused attention fuels the fire of our intentions and our actions! We have the power to direct our intentions wherever we choose them to go or take us. We have been gifted with tremendous creative ability! The energies that we give out will eventually come back to us! We are creating all the time. All humankind shares an inherent powerful freedom of choice….by which we can create or destroy… buildup or tear down… heal or afflict… affirm or deny… make peace or war. We saw the most important word I can leave with you…in action…in our country following 9/11…and in our world following the Tsunami disaster…the word, compassion. In order for our civilization to continue to exist, the practice of compassion is essential! We have split the atom and made almost unbelievable technological advances, but we have yet to develop an inner life that helps us to treat both ourselves and others with the tender heart of compassion. This will be the only connecting link to a genuinely free world. The ‘soul’ of the word ‘freedom’ is the same as the ‘soul’ of the words ‘love’ and ‘peace’. Does it follow that we are only truly free when we allow our activities and choices to be governed by Love and Peace? Epicteteus said we are only free if we master ourselves. + As a footnote, I would like to say that all personal proceeds that come from the sale of The Hidden Souls of Words will go to HOPE INC. a private foundation that I established a number of years ago. HOPE INC. seeks to materially and spiritually aid children and their care givers.
Samuel Johnson, England’s greatest authority on ‘words’ wrote, “Hope is itself a species of happiness, and perhaps the chief happiness that this world affords.” The soul of the word hope, comes from the Old English, hopien, which means to leap with expectation!
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