One of the many reasons I have decided to sail into the Vast Ocean of Words is that I would love it if we could be free again (like the Puritans, for example) to use words like contemplation, meditation, thanksgiving, religion, experience, emotion, hearing, silence, without being accused of promoting a false religion. I know, I know, context reigns, but let’s be sincere here. Many today have come to the point that the moment they see such words, they stop reading and just label the author as a terrible mystic (and there you have it, another forbidden word: mystic)
So yes, I will be brave and I will take the risk (today and in the near future) and will use those words to say, for example:
I am a religious person who loves to contemplate God’s creation, and meditate on His Word in silence. (and no, I am not a Pantheist)I love it when I can hear God’s voice speaking to me in His Word. The whisperings of the Holy Spirit through the day reminding me of a Bible verse, a person to pray for, or a hymn to sing.
I love to give thanks, one thousand times to my God when I see the gay colors in nature, the rainbow across the sky, my husband and children. I love that God made sex for His glory and I love the marriage bed. I am amazed that God used the allegory of marriage as his favorite to describe our union with Christ.
The experiences I have lived are real, and so are the emotions. I don’t ignore either of them, I face them, I deal with them. I bring them subject to the Word of God; I crucify those that oppose themselves against God’s Word and at the same time I cherish those that have helped me grow more in the faith.
I am not ready to give up the use of these words. They are rich and God-given to us; and maybe it is time for us to redeem them instead of censuring them by locking them up in a dark dungeon. Instead of excommunicating them from our vocabulary, we could start using them, I am sure many times those are just the right words we are looking for.
And to follow the advice of the experts in the craft of writing, let us look at some etymological definitions:
Meditation c.1200, “contemplation; devout preoccupation; devotions, prayer,” from L. meditationem (nom. meditatio), from pp. stem of meditari “to meditate, to think over, consider.”
Contemplation c.1200, “religious musing,” from O.Fr. contemplation or directly from L. contemplationem (nom. contemplatio) “act of looking at,” from contemplat-, pp. stem of contemplari “to gaze attentively, observe,” originally “to mark out a space for observation”
Thanksgiving 1530s, “the giving of thanks,” from thanks (n.) + giving. The noun thanks is attested from mid-14c., from the verb thank. In the specific sense of “public celebration acknowledging divine favors”
Religion c.1200 “conduct indicating a belief in a divine power,” from L. religionem (nom. religio) “respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods,” in L.L. “monastic life” (5c.); according to Cicero, derived from relegere “go through again, read again,” from re- “again” + legere “read” (see lecture). However, popular etymology among the later ancients (and many modern writers) connects it with religare “to bind fast” (see rely), via notion of “place an obligation on,” or “bond between humans and gods.” Another possible origin is religiens “careful,” opposite of negligens. Meaning “particular system of faith” is recorded from c.1300.
Zinsser recommends in his book, On Writing Well, that one of the best ways to end a piece of writing is with a good quote, so my friends, because I want to be a diligent student and this is my workbook, I’ll close with a few words of Spurgeon,
“There is something exceedingly improving to the mind
in a contemplation of the Divinity–
It is a subject so vast,
that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity;
so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity.
Other subjects we can compass and grapple with–
in them we feel a kind of self-content,
and go our way with the thought, “Behold I am wise.”
But when we come to this master-science,
finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth,
and that our eagle eye cannot see its height,
we turn away with the thought, that vain man would be
wise, but he is like a wild donkey’s colt; and with the
“I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.”
No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the
mind, than thoughts of God.”
Grace upon grace,
Please, take the time to read an excellent follow up to this conversation at Tried by Fire: Disarming the Gut Reaction
Trisha also wrote some wise words about “those dirty words” here.
Update: Diane at Theology for Girls has another great post that goes hand in hand with all these: Isn’t it Time that We Stop Devouring One Another?
Painting by J.M.W Turner, The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up, 1839
You still have time to enter the giveaway of Douglas Wilson’s book, Wordsmithy here.