Sunday, May 15, 2022

The Beauty of Language

I have a passion for language. The more I write, the more I recognize the power of language and the beauty of certain words. Think of the word edification. Say it aloud a few times. Stretch it out. Then try accenting each syllable in turn. 

Now consider the definition of edification: enlightenment, building up, teaching, nurture. It’s no accident that this word sounds beautiful since its meaning is significant. I remember reading it in the New Testament. In I Corinthians 14, Paul uses edification to compare the gift of speaking in tongues with the gift of revelation or teaching (imparting knowledge). He says that speaking in tongues edifies or enlightens the speaker rather than the listener since the language is unintelligible to others. He instructs the new followers of Christ in Corinth to speak plainly for the edification of others. In verse 12, he says, “...since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.” 

I wanted to learn more about the word, so I researched it. Edification comes from the Latin root aedificare, meaning “to instruct or improve spiritually.” Its basis is aedes, which means “temple” or “edifice.” I wondered if the Hebrew word used by Paul had the same meaning. 

According to, the New Testament term for "building up" the Church, "edification," has roots in the Old Testament concept of building the temple. Jesus used it to speak of building the new people of God (followers of Christ), and St. Paul used it to emphasize the spiritual formation of the Christian community. According to Paul, each of us is responsible for edifying [enlightening, illuminating, building up] our community of believers. What a beautiful concept! What a powerful word! I wonder what would happen if we extended the gift of edification to everyone.

Have you noticed any particular words that trip off the tongue beautifully or carry significant meaning for you? Please post a comment.

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Friday, May 6, 2022

If Buildings Could Talk

Old buildings have always captivated me. During my first year of marriage, I took photographs of old buildings and nothing else. My new husband had bought our first Ricoh camera, and I would snap photos through the car window wherever we traveled.

“Why are you always wasting film on those dilapidated structures?” my husband would ask. Yes, film! We've been married a long time. I couldn’t explain my obsession with ancient edifices in a way that justified the expense to him, but it made perfect sense to me.

Long ago–by American standards, not European standards–someone in another lifetime employed the expense, effort, and expertise to erect a house, barn, store, shed, church, or service station. Each structure represents history and lives lived. If it could talk, just imagine the stories it would tell, stories of birth, death, and everything in between. 

As I study my snapshots (now taken with a cell phone), I am intrigued by tales I can only imagine. I want to ponder the reason for each building’s construction, who lived or worked there, and why they abandoned it. Does its history include romance, friendship, and family? Was it once cared for with paint, regular maintenance, and necessary repairs? Did it provide ample shelter or livelihood for someone? Could it have housed more than one set of occupants or generations? Who were they? How did they look? How did they dress? How did they speak, think, and act? 

To me, buildings possess character and personality. Like older people, geriatric buildings are worth getting to know because they have stories to tell. Sitting with them is like reading a book set in another time and place. It opens new vistas and expands one’s understanding of humanity. 

When I spot an old abandoned building, my imagination soars as my mind’s eye recreates possible plots, characters, scenarios, and even motivations associated with its history. 

Why do I care? It must be the writer in me. 

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Monday, February 14, 2022

February Trick

February Trick

Daffodil is fooled into thinking it is spring.
Donning a yellow sundress, she opens her mouth to sing.

Sunshine plays a trick on her, expelling winter gloom,
dancing upon her budded face and coaxing her to bloom.

Yesterday was cold; the temperature dipped low;
quite normal for the month, we even saw some snow. 

Today, the sun shines brightly. The thermometer climbs to sixty.
Daffodil says, "Look at me! Aren't I just nifty?"

Now her leaves pop forth, reaching toward the sun.
She lets the warmth deceive her, "There's lots of time for fun.

"I'll come out to play and revel in the breezing.
Uh-oh! I took a chance, but now the air is freezing."

What to do? Stay or go? Too late to reconsider.
"I wish I’d brought a coat with me to guard against the bitter."

She promised that this year she wouldn’t rush to arrive.
She’d wait till spring was earnest, when blossoms could survive.

But memory fails our golden friend, for last year was the same;
 Sunshine fooled her that year too; in February she came.

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Saturday, January 8, 2022

What is the Secret to a Long Marriage?

My husband, Carl, and I just celebrated our Golden Wedding Anniversary, which got me thinking. What does it take to stay married for fifty years? Is there one quality of a long marriage that stands out?

When we hear about long marriages, we tend to assume they have always been happy. The truth is no fifty-year partnership has been consistently happy. Two people living together that long are bound to have experienced differences of opinion and clashes of will. Certainly, Carl and I have had those moments…plenty of them. There was even a time when I wondered if we might be better off separating. But, we didn’t separate, and that’s the point I want to make. Instead, we stayed together and resolved to work through our differences.
Life can be stressful and hard. Marriage can be stressful and hard. So, if there is one quality that keeps people together through thick and thin, I’d have to say it is commitment. You thought I was going to say love, didn’t you? Let me explain.

When Carl and I took our marriage vows in 1972, we committed to each other for life. Divorce was off the table from Day One. During the honeymoon phase, it was easy to feel committed. Our love was new and fresh. We were striking out on an exciting adventure, focused on each other and our future together. So, when life threw us its inevitable challenges, it would have been easy to give up, to forget about those vows we took before God and our loved ones.

Disclaimer: lifelong commitment does not apply to abusive relationships. In my opinion, abuse is a dealbreaker.

It may be love or even chemistry that brings couples together, but those feelings can be fleeting, and physical attraction can fade with time. Commitment is a different kind of love. It is not based on emotions or sexual energy. Commitment says, “I promise to love you even when I find you unlovable; I promise to love you even when I feel unlovable.”

Communication has been a huge challenge in our marriage. I don’t think we’re alone in this. Both Carl and I are introverts who don’t communicate comfortably. He is cerebral and private. I tend to shut down emotionally when I’m upset. That’s not a good combination for open communication. It has taken many years and heaps of courage to figure out how to argue productively and work through the issues in our relationship.
Disagreements in marriage (or any relationship) are inevitable, even when the parties hold similar values and personality traits; but no conflict can ever be resolved by pretending it doesn’t exist, holding onto resentment, or refusing to compromise from one’s position. Learning to “fight fair” is probably the most important skill a couple can learn because conflicts arise even in committed relationships. Sometimes learning this skill requires professional counseling. Always, it requires open, honest, respectful communication.

When one partner is sick or angry or exhausted, it is impossible to find the humor in situations. When the other partner sees everything as funny or makes jokes when the other is suffering, the relationship will be strained. For many years, I suffered with endometriosis, a very painful condition. Trust me when I say, “Nothing was funny!” Instead of cajoling me out of my depression, Carl’s attempts at humor only created resentment.

Now, in our golden years, humor is a tool we use to keep from taking minor conflicts (or ourselves) too seriously rather than a tool to put down the other person. When both parties find it funny, the humor can be shared as a tool for intimacy. When one person is not amused, it’s a sign the attempt at humor may have been offensive.

Humans make mistakes. When that happens in marriage, the partner has a choice to either keep score or forgive. Forgiveness is grounded in a shared faith in God. It is also a byproduct of commitment. “What about infidelity?” you ask. I think commitment takes infidelity off the table, so I won’t even go there. But, let’s face it, mistakes and misunderstandings are part of every relationship. If God can forgive our sins when we “earnestly repent” and not hold them against us, don’t we have an obligation to both apologize for our offenses and forgive our partner when s/he earnestly repents?

Have you been married for a long time? What do you think is the secret to your long marriage? I want to hear from you.

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