Little wooden heads of both men and women peered down from the eaves of the Great Hall in King Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace. They were painted in lovely details: red lips, hair of blond or brown, little crowns of leaves adorned some of their heads. They all went by the same name: eavesdropper. All who entered the palace were reminded by a quick glance above that nothing spoken would remain hidden forever, and their words would eventually reach their king’s ears.
King Henry VIII received the palace as a gift in 1529 and upon enlarging it, he had the little wooden heads fashioned and placed high above the heads of his subjects, hoping to instill fear of loose-lipped speech among them.
Gossip is so easy to spread and sharing information entrusted to us is often a temptation, but just like the little eavesdroppers looking down in warning from their rafters, the bible warns us about the consequences of revealing secrets:
He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love,
But he who repeats or gossips about a matter separates intimate friends. Proverbs 17:9
Love often means speaking up for another in defense. It means expressing our affection for others through words of kindness or concern, or even correction at times. But love also means silence when it come to the bond of trust between the sharer and the hearer, unless harm from keeping a secret is imminent.
We are all tempted to share secrets. May we remember in those times that love often spells silence, and seek love!