Love Your Elders Well

Image

love them well frm sig 3796 fb

I freely admit that I’ve had a stormy relationship with my parents for all my life. And I’ve seen enough family relationships being played out at hospital bedsides to know that I am not alone.
As children, we see our parents as all-powerful, because they hold all the power over our lives.
As adults, we begin to see them as human beings, with all their faults and foibles.
If we are lucky, we will some day come to the point at which we realize that they are frail and mortal and that, try as we might, we will never truly understand the fears they grew by and through.
Perhaps then we can cradle them in our hearts, and, if they allow it, in our arms.
Amen

Chaos

Some months ago, one of my former students in Damascus reminded me of a discussion we once had when I was teaching him English. He had tried to convince me that I was mispronouncing “chaos” because all the words he knew that started with “ch” had a “soft” start, like “church” and “chimney.”
In my letter back to him, I reminded him that English can be such a complicated language because it is the child of many many fathers, with all the problems of its mother’s complex relationships.
I probably called it a “bastard” language back then, with all the wryness of someone who had herself only recently learned of the depths such a status could indicate: a chasm between self and family, between self and community.
 
Chaos comes to English from Latin, but it is a bastard in itself, coming into Latin from Greek. It comes into English from the Vulgate where it was the word for the vast open unformed emptiness that preceded the seven days of creation.

Chaos stands against cosmos 
As bastard stands against family
As order stands against disorder
Ahh — but think!
Think of all the creative potential
Think of what happens outside the walls
There in the borderlands
Lies all the possibilities for change and growth
Let me, O Lord,
Be the bastard
Who finds how chaos
May yet change
Th’imperfect order
Of the church.
What a funny chaotic language English really is: not empty at all, but very disordered 🙂
Ahhhh – the possibilites