A Word on Wednesday: Rain

This morning there is a gentle rain. Pattering of droplets on pavement, on window panes, on softening ground.

A gentle rain is as calming as a scented candle.

rain

Scientifically, the word rain is water that is condensed from the aqueous vapor in the atmosphere and falls to the earth in drops mores than half a millimeter in diameter.

It falls, escapes from clouds, and reaches the surface to puddle and pool or seep and nurture.

Rain is different than drizzle. Rain is different than downpour. Described as a soft rain it cleanses the air, clears the humidity.

I find it wonderful to write inside wrapped in a sweater to the sound of the droplets. I step outside in the rain and smell the earth dampening.

Rain calls us to relax to reflect to watch and feel. It is a gift from God, easily explained away by science. Yet, I believe it speaks to the omnipresence of our higher being. It is the changes of weather that remind us of constant motion and variance.

Rain is a song from heaven.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:  a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;  a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;  a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;  a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

 

 

A Word on Wednesday: Mighty

The adjective, mighty,  literally means having, characterized by, or showing superior power or strength. For example: mighty ruler or a mighty oak.

Mighty

It is easy to dismiss oneself as small or feeble rather than mighty especially when circumstances such as physical size or disability are less than great. Also, weak life stations can reduce us to believe we are less than.

However, mighty is a state of mind. Consider Mighty Mouse. The name together like that is an oxymoron. How can a mouse be mighty? But those of us exposed to the anthropomorphic superhero mouse were convinced of his power.

The American cartoon character first appeared in 1942 and subsequently in eighty theatrical films between 1942 and 1961. These films were twice revived in 1979 and when I was first introduced to him in 1987. This was one of my favorite cartoons. You can have your Bugs Bunny racing away from trouble, I’ll take Mighty Mouse heading full speed in the face of adversity.

Mighty in character, in mindset is within our control despite outward appearances and conditions. Too often, we forget our strength, our might — our power or ability to do or accomplish. We ignore our capacity.

Mighty originates before 900 from the Old English “mihtig” describing being possessed of or endowed with might; having much ability, strength, or power.

In the storms of life, it is best to be a mighty oak and to have the courage to believe this metaphor as truth. This is true for those personal struggles. Also, we must call upon our might to engage in the fight against injustice. We must be a force for good, like Mighty Mouse – the pint-sized Superman.

 

 

A Word on Wednesday: Ambition

Is ambition something you have or something you do? Well both, depending if it a fixed characteristic or an action you take.

Ambition

 

As a noun, ambition is an earnest desire for some time of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and willingness to strive for its attainment. Ambition is also the object state, or result desired or sought after.

One can own ambition as a desire for work or activity; energy. For example one can awake feeling tired or lacing in ambition. Contrarily, one could wake full of ambition ready to take on the work.

As a verb, ambition is the action of seeking after or to aspire to some end. Without action, ambition remains a noun, something we have but do not do. In her book “Simple Abundance, Sara Ban Breathnack, writes “Action — ambition in motion — is what produces achievement.”

It is easy to hold ambition, but without action ambition remains just a longing, a hope, a desire. As a verb, ambition connects intention with action!

Again, as a noun it is a aspiration, yearning or longing to some goal or aim. But with activity, ambition becomes something you strive toward. One can have the ambition to write a book, but until one sits with pen or keyboard, the novel idea is just a notion, never to become a realized dream. 

She had the ambition to climb the stairs. Her ambition led her up the stairs. And as an adverb, she ambitiously climbed the stairs.

 

A Word on Wednesday: Contribute

Contribute, a verb, when used with an object to give (money, time, knowledge, assistance, etc.) to a common supply, fund, etc., as for charitable purposes. Also meaning to furnish (an original written work, drawing, etc.) for publication. Contribute
I rest on the side of the border argument that we should be a refuge of safe asylum for those crossing the southern border. I’m on the side thinking it abhorrent to rip children away from parents, to cage our brothers and sisters, to have an industry profiting from this current affair.
However on this side, I am on the side lines. I think these things. I plan to vote, but other than sharing an occasional tart Facebook meme, I do nothing. I do not send money. I do not engage in debate. I do not travel to the border with water. I shake my head at the obscenity of it all. I share my shock, disbelief and horror of the situation only with those who I know are like-minded.
I live in a community with the majority voting red, many wearing the red MAGA caps, and I look the other way. No sense poking the bear I think; it won’t don’t any good I choose to believe.Yet, by remaining silent, I contribute to the passive allowance of these crimes against humanity, these behaviors against the loving and just God I believe in.I fear this land we live in full of hatred and racism. I fear this country’s leadership, and I fear my community’s steady marching in support of it. I fear my children going to school and being subjected to the echos of children spewing slurs and taunts learned at their homes.
I do not fear the immigrants reaching for help, escaping from terror only to be detained in further subhuman conditions. I believe the real threat to our county is the evil spreading from its own kind.

My hairdresser and I were chatting, becoming emotional, and we wondered aloud what could we really do. How could we contribute? 

I can actively pray. My prayer is this: “Dear God, almighty, help me find voice and action to contribute. Fill me with your love to guide my children through these mobs of wall supporters. Empower me to have both voice and action toward a solution embraced with tolerance, love, and acceptance. I pray in your name, Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Gentle readers, please light my path to contribution with suggestions in the comments as to how I can help.

Contribute, from Latin contributus, past participle of contribuere “to bring together, add, unite, collect.”

 

A Word on Wednesday: Audacious

Audacious, adjective, extremely bold or daring, recklessly brave; fearless: an audacious explorer. Also meaning, extremely original; without restriction to prior ideas; highly inventive.

I used to own a pair of shoes. I called them my intrepid reporting shoes. They were navy blue, knock off, canvas sneakers. I wore them with everything. On the beat doing small town journalism. On the town, checking out the trendy wine bar in the early 2000s. Walking the dog. At the coffee shop. Meeting my would be husband. 

I wore those shoes into shabby, thin soled, beaten down kicks that eventually had to be retired, not donated, but left to a landfill. I have not since bought such a daring pair of footwear. I am a bit of a mother-of-three square, blending in rather than standing out. Perhaps they were clownish, but to me their bold color and clashing casualness gave me the audacity to arrive invited or not. They served me well. 
audacious2
Now, I try to recall the spirit of the younger women who wore those shoes. The audacity. 
I long for the audacity to create these Words, Crazy Words. I am audacious enough to commit them to print. Yet, I have not had the fearless, boldness to actively seek an audience. I have been content to share them with a select group of people and receive a “that’s nice.”
What would happen if I was recklessly brave enough to PUT IT OUT THERE! Who would stumble across and say “hey, more people should read this.” I miss the respect I felt for myself in creating for an audience. 
From Middle French in the 1540s, audacious, originates as a word for confident, intrepid, and daring. From Latin, daring, boldness, courage. 

A Word on Wednesday: Pastime

Pastime, noun, something that serves to make time pass agreeably; a pleasant means of amusement, recreation, or sport: to play cards as a pastime.

passtimes

Time passes without a thought to me. I scroll social media and time passes, lots of time. I miss out on hobby, on creative practice, on reading actual books rather than memes. I’m not alone.

I just “celebrated” ten years on my Facebook account! I love the app. I love seeing baby pictures, wedding pictures, prom pictures. I love the groups feature, where I connect with my book club and writing circles, and even the “Class of ’94.” The events tab has helped me invite guests to my occasions and find both public and private gatherings. I use the messenger feature that saves every digital conversation I ever had with a person — I especially love that this feature saved the back-and-forth I shared with my late best friend.

I’m not saying I’m addicted. I have practiced FB breaks, removing it from my phone. Refraining from posting. But, I always come back — in a waiting room, in the car waiting to pick up my kids, in the passenger seat on long drives, during lunch hour.

Before, Facebook, before the internet what did I do? At home, I did jigsaw puzzles, I played board games, I played solitaire with an actual deck of cards – no virtual fireworks when I won. With others, I talked and laughed. In waiting rooms, I read magazines. In the car, I listened to the radio.

I wonder if my pastimes can again be more intentional. Can I practice my creative pursuits — finish that scarf I’ve been knitting, that book I’ve been writing, those scrapbooks I started. Can I get ahead of the weeds in the gardens? Clean out the closets? Hang those curtains? Paint the laundry room?

Time is a resource, a gift. Pastimes are a way to relax. Today, I try to be more mindful of my time and spend less of it passing without intention.

A Word on Wednesday: Sin

Sin, from Hebrew, to miss the mark. As a verb, sin is an action. It results from succumbing to temptation or enticement. Sometimes, though, it occurs with lack of intention.

sin

Sin is to commit a transgression of divine law, to offend against a principle or standard. As a noun, it is thought to be willful or deliberate violation of moral principle.

How does one recover from sin? On her knees? In a confessional booth? With vows to not repeat?

I first learned of sin at a conscious level in the fifth grade while preparing for receiving the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation. I spent month’s preparing by drumming up memories of all sin and wrong doing I had committed. I was reminding of missing church, telling little white lies, coveting my neighbor — I wanted Carrie’s frosted jeans, not honoring my parents, and using the Lord’s name in vain — how many times had I said “Oh my God?” Of course, I hadn’t stolen or murdered or broken any marriage vows.

So, my limited understanding was that I was to write down my sins. Later years, I would sit in a confessional booth, but this first sacrament was different, special. We folded up our letters, placed them in a fire at the front of church in front of Mary, the Father, God, our teachers, our families, and everyone. Then, I was forgiven. I was given a penance, which I forgot — Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s I imagine. I vowed to never sin again silently, frightened.

At a Presbyterian sermon, I relearned the word sin with a Hebrew meaning of missing the mark. This sounds of an act worth forgiving. An event one can recover from rather than be stained by.

Sin, from Old English synn is a “moral wrongdoing, injury, mischief, enmity, feud, guilt, crime, offense against God, or misdeed.” This sounds more damaging. Almost, unforgivable static way of life, sinful.

I choose to believe sinning is a temporary stray from a life of hitting the mark. One needs to find acknowledgment of the falling short and accept responsibility for the damage the sinning has caused. From there, one can tell oneself they just missed the mark and it’s okay to draw back and aim again at a just and right path.

Sin doesn’t magically get erased from a magician in the sky, like my 10-year-old self believed. Sin happens, deliberately and not. I chose to correct the course, adjust the coordinates, and carry on.

*Note: I do not believe my elementary understanding of the Catholic sacrament is complete and I do not intend this post to poke fun or insult the faith traditions of the Catholic Church. I acknowledge the ritual has a place and in fact it was a sacrament I received many times before converting to a protestant faith at age 29. 

 

 

A Word on Wednesday: Libation

Libation, a noun, a pouring out of wine or other liquid in honor of a deity; the liquid poured out.

This delightful word comes from Latin libationem (nominative libatio) “a drink offering,” noun of action from past participle stem of libare “pour out (an offering).”

This word has lost its originally, intended sophistication. It has been used offhandedly to refer to any drinking occasion. It is often facetious such as an intoxicating beverage, as wine, especially when drunk in ceremonial or celebratory situations.

Regardless if you are honoring a deity or celebrating an occasion, the “spirit” of libation is indeed joy. Definitely not to mean over imbibing.

This is a month of joy for me. Last weekend, Mother’s Day, an acknowledgement of my mother and three sons, which needed no libations.

Next weekend, my birthday, which shall include cheers and spirits with my girlfriends. Libations in celebration of sisterhood is perfectly appropriate. I believe in the magic of women circles and honor my book club ladies, writing sisters, and way back gal pals.

A Word on Wednesday: Devotions

Defined as ecclesiastical. A religious observance or worship; a form of prayer or worship for special use.

Devotions

I use my devotion time as reflection. Is it God, a higher power, a creator, or a deeper call to self that I am trying to reach when I devote this time? I can’t say, but the day goes better when I spend a few moment in the morning reading bible passages and other’s thoughts on interpretation of meaning.

My first introduction to devotions was a book of psalms I received as a gift in 2000, almost twenty years ago. I was working as a case manager at a home for unwed mothers. Coincidentally, I was a unwed mother myself. Unlike the people I helped, I was not homeless. The ministry, managed by the Salvation Army, was to provide shelter, support, education, and hope to women to break out of poverty and grow into good parents. The home these young women and their children lived in was called “The House of Hope.”

I was given a beautiful copy of “Psalms for Women: God’s Gift of Inner Beauty, Peace, and Happiness” published by Honor Books. This book is inscribed with lovely intention: “Blessings on you as you work at the House of Hope. We are glad you are a part of the beginning of this special ministry. We hope this book gives you fresh blessings from God.”

I received the book, thanked the giver of the verses bound in soft pink. Then, I promptly set it on my book shelf where it was forgotten for a decade or more. I did move it from house to house with my other books. When packing it, I gently felt the soft cover and reread the inscription.

It wasn’t until after I finished forty days with “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren that I read the book of selected psalms and practiced devotion. I would read a chapter each morning and write a reflection. Since then, I have purchased and practiced other devotions compiled by the same publisher and others. I’d like to say this is a daily practice. In season’s of my life it is.

And I sometimes fall out of the habit, but I am drawn to return again and again to the easy practice of fifteen minutes of refection. I continue to be drawn to Psalms. They offer instruction and inspiration for the day and life in general. In Latin origin practicing devotions is an act of consecrating by a vow, also, loyalty and allegiance.

So I practice my devotions, like millions of others. The practice does not yield shocking or immediate results. There is however, a gentle, gradual transformation that deepens my acknowledgement of God. This nod to divinity guides my thoughts and, at times, my actions.

Devotions require regular doses. It begins with one day, one page, one verse, one psalm. The wisdom embedded in the scripture is universal. Some days speak more directly than others. I find comfort in reading the words of the bible, which have been read by more people than any other book. I find connection to self, community, and, yes, even God.

“But all who humble themselves before the Lord shall be given every blessing, and shall have wonderful peace.” Psalm 37:11

A Word on Wednesday: Hollow

As a kid, a great disappointment was the hollow bunny that was part of the bounty of the Easter basket. I delighted in finding the basket under a table or behind a chair. I discovered colorful jelly beans, foil wrapped eggs, a carton of pastel-coated-egg-shaped malted milk balls, and a towering box containing a chocolate bunny.

Hollow

Each year, I hoped it was solid milk chocolate, but instead found an emptiness after biting off the ear. Nothing. There was nothing inside, just shadowed space of emptiness.

Some days, I feel my life is hollow. Void of purpose. Just window dressing.

Hollow, an adjective, is defined as having space or a cavity inside; not solid; empty, for example a hollow sphere. Its content lacking. 

On Easter Sunday, as an adult, I will rejoice at the empty tomb, the everlasting promise of salvation. The hollow bunny, of course, is unrelated. The hollow bunny is less than joyful. When I feel empty there is a longing, a desire to have more.

Though, I sometimes feel, I can perhaps be okay. Perhaps, I can feel contentment in hollow days as well as my days full of joy.

Hollow origins before 900 from Middle English holw(e), holow. In Old English it derives from holh, a hollow place; akin to hole.

A hole, something to chase down, as Alice did, and she found Wonderland.

A hole, something to be filled.

Hollow, though, can also mean a place where sheep graze. The hollow days are just a contrasting time and space. 

I could dare to look at the hollow bunny as a gift of wonder, how do they make that empty space without any openings on the surface? How is that thin coating in tact from creation to destination?
Not everything needs to be full. I could rejoice in what is rather than yearn for completeness.