Thursday, June 16, 2011

The hunt for "One Word"

Oh dear. I read a post.
So many interesting thoughts start that way.
If only I could finish those thoughts too! Maybe.

Inspired by a friend of mine to hunt for one word to live by, I was on a mission. My vocabulary isn't very extensive, but I do enjoy fishing around for just that right fit. Kinda look the BEST pair of jeans in your closet. Just gotta fit right. Or else it is a GRUMPY day all around ;).
Anyway again.

Ever since finding the word picaresque  in a novel (Angela Hunt, don't ask me which one, I was delirious with joy and fatigue at the time, probably read it during a mid-night feeding session!!) I've wanted to use it in a blog post. From the context of the book, I knew it had something to do with the concept of journeying. Exploring. Pressing on. Good thing I "googled it" before using it as my "one word." Ahem. This is what I discovered:


  [pik-uh-resk]  Show IPA
pertaining to, characteristic of, or characterized by a form ofprose fiction, originally developed in Spain, in whichthe adventures of an engagingly roguish hero are describedin a series of usually humorous or satiric episodes that oftendepict, in realistic detail, the everyday life of the commonpeoplepicaresque novel; picaresque hero.
of, pertaining to, or resembling rogues.
1800–10;  < Spanish picaresco. See picaro-esque

un·pic·a·resque, adjective

picaresque, picturesque (see synonym noteat picturesque).

2.  prankish, rascally, devilish, raffish. 

While the thought of a satirical story of everyday life would be entertaining, I just cannot see myself as a really "good" rogue. I think I'm a bit to ... reserved ... for that. Sarcastic, perhaps. Prankish? Rascally? Probably not. 
So. Great word. I'm sure it would be fun. But, not my "one word."

I also thought about the word sojourn. However, apparently it has the connotation of "visit," as in "visiting a land for a holiday," and while this earth is not our eternal home, too much happens here to be a "visit." I prefer to reserve that term for the time I make it out to a quiet cottage, down by a lake, I will emphasize the word QUIET :). That will be a sanity sojourn :).

Then I thought about the word journey. I liked the adventure/epic theme in the first word. But somehow, journey just seemed overused. Kind of like my overuse of !!!! 

Kept fishing around. Pilgrim sounded a bit old-colony, and I kept thinking of that guy, some western fellow, (perhaps he was picaresque ;P), saying, "hey there, pil-grim." Ech.

But... journey... movement... a sense of adventure....

pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith. Many religions attach spiritual importance to particular places: the place of birth or death of founders or saints, or to the place of their "calling" or spiritual awakening, or of their connection (visual or verbal) with the divine, or to locations where miracles were performed or witnessed, or locations where a deity is said to live or be "housed," or any site that is seen to have special spiritual powers. Such sites may be commemorated with shrines or temples that devotees are encouraged to visit for their own spiritual benefit: to be healed or have questions answered or to achieve some other spiritual benefit. A person who makes such a journey is called a pilgrim. In America, the term pilgrim is typically associated with an early colonial protestant sect known for their strict rules of discipline.

It is the progression from one point of being to another. From beginning to end. For me, it is the essence of the adventure each of us is on - the movement from not knowing God to a deeper knowing of Him.

There are all sorts of characters along this journey that play a part in this epic story. People that have drawn me near to the heart of God, either by their teaching or their example. Others that have driven me to God by driving me to my knees ;). There is risk and romance ;), love and pain, anger, brokenness, confusion, despair, hope. There is adventure. There are seasons of routine, day-in day-out normalcy.

Recently I reread a passage that has spoken to me on numerous occasions:

5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, 
   whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. 
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka, 
   they make it a place of springs; 
   the autumn rains also cover it with pools.[d] 
7 They go from strength to strength, 
   till each appears before God in Zion. Psalm 84:5-7

There have been times when I would've preferred a safe, predictable life. And really, by many standards, that is precisely what I do have. However, blessed are those... whose hearts are set on pilgrimage... those who are not content with the "not knowing,"who are willing to risk going near the heart of God; risk the exposure, the awestruck wonder, the change.

According to my understanding, the Valley of Baka is a dry, desert place. Just like seasons in my life, where there are times of relational dryness. Things feel disconnected, especially, even most keenly with the One who knows me better than I know myself. In fact, I'd say most days, that's how I feel right now. And yet, even in the midst of those times, particularly because of those times, there are oases of learning and knowing and growing that can make it a blessed place. It has the potential to go deeper because it becomes something I am less tempted to take for granted.

It took a while for me to connect to the concept of moving from strength to strength. As a person who has struggled intensely with anxiety, I tended to think of life in terms of from catastrophe to catastrophe, with perhaps a little plateau in between. What a IMMENSE RELIEF it was for me to embrace the understanding that I could step from "strength to strength" while enduring the trial or valley that often lies in between.

Okay, there is much more I could say, but I think I've (sort of :P?) made my point.
If I had to pick a word, it would be pilgrimage. A journey with highs and lows, of many awkward moments (like the time I tore my shorts on a fence at a baseball game AND held them shut as I ran the bases or the time I tried downhill skiing and ended up in a fence), of many many many laughs and a few (more than a few!) tears too. At the heart of it - a growing, deepening, widening understanding of Who this Creator King is and how He is worthy of praise.


PS - You'd think that all I do all day is sit around mulling things over till I'm almost cuckoo :)!!! That is not the case. I actually do dishes, laundry, vacuuming, gardening, and a whole lotta child rearing in there too, just for fun :)!


Rebecca said...

I love this, Leah! How you describe your pilgrimage toward the word pilgrimage - delightful. It's a good word - one that deserves a life-time of figuring out and shaping. Love the verses in Psalms that you've matched with this word.

Robin Fehr said...

Good Post. Good word. My word would have been 'chaos' or 'spontaneous'... but I think I maybe growing up a bit (lol) so I have to find a new word :P


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