07 January 2011

Scalawags & Vagabonds

These words have passed through my mind in the last day or so. I think I was especially attached to the "ag" sound.

Scalawag: a person who behaves badly but in an amusingly mischievous rather than harmful way; a rascal. Sadly, it's origin in unknown!

Vagabond: a person who wanders from place to place without a home or job; a rascal or rogue. This one is from Middle English, from Old French or Latin, vagabundus, from vagari, "wander."

What a coincidence that both of these words have a synonym of rascal. What another delicious word. I also like the Latin root of "vagabond," vagari, just as a stand alone word.

By the above technical definition, my husband and I are vagabonds in a major way. However, I am proud to say we are not scalawags, as we are not criminals at all. Even still, I like both words and would not be prejudiced against a Scalawag-Vagabond. The Roma all around us are such classification, and I quite admire them. They do not have a job, but they do have an income source through trash collection and work harder than most people here. They are not accepted by society. And it has produced quite attractive traits in them: cultural resistance, resourcefulness, innovativeness, re-making everything from scratch.

Of course, I had to make a logo and abbreviated logo. This could be a rough-and-tumble café or a ministry targeted for those who feels particularly judged by society. Or, better yet, both! Also, it is a humbling category to put one's self in. This calls to mind the Tolkien poem from which we quote "not all who wander are lost."

All that is gold does not glitter,
not all those who wander are lost;
the old that is strong does not wither,
deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
a light from the shadows shall spring;
renewed shall be blade that was broken,
the crownless again shall be king.

06 January 2011

Paronym: beside + a name

The other day, this word popped up on my screen saver (a rolling dictionary). It was a divine gift for me. I have always had a fascination with the essential meaning of words; that is, the kernel of meaning at the heart of the word. I especially like words that are overused and rarely understood in their full. Despite my logophilia, the closest word I could find to name my hobby was "etymology."

Then, all of the sudden, right before my eyes it came to me: "paronym."

Paronym: a word that is a derivative of another and has a related meaning, a word formed by adaptation of a foreign word. The etymology of paronym is Greek, para-, "beside," onuma, "a name."

So now I know that I am a logophile with interest in the etymology of paronyms.

02 January 2011

Ministry of the Doorkeeper

"Ministry" is such an overused word. And it just feels so darn religious. What does it mean to minister to someone? What is a minister? What qualifies something as ministry?

Come to find out, "minister" comes to English (again through French) from Latin minus, which means "less." Wow. Who knew?

Of course, I immediately think of John the Baptist's response to his disciples' report that Jesus was baptizing people in the Jordan (in John the disciple's gospel): "He must increase, but I must decrease." This is amazing! We must decrease, or become less. And this was such the attitude of Paul, as well, was it not? He said that he is the least in the Kingdom of God. But most of all, was this not the example set of our precious Lord Jesus? He became our servant (lesser one) by taking up the duties of the least of servants in washing the feet of his disciples.

The Psalmist in Psalm 84:10 declares, "For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness." Me, too. I would rather be the least of the lesser ones in the house of my God than chill with the dark and abusive ones. I wonder what a doorkeeper did?

Below are potential logo and identity mark for a "Minus" ministry.

30 December 2010

re + salire

"Resilient" has long been one of my favorite words. But I must admit that it is just today that I sat to ponder its etymology. Well, re- is pretty easy: "again" or "back." I was a bit stumped on sil. I was pretty sure that it was originally Latin, coming to English through French – sounds just like it could end in -ire, doesn't it?

Well, it turns out that it comes from the obsolete French word silir and Latin salire meaning "to jump." Hmmm. In my mind "resilient" had always evoked an image of something like a concrete wall that could be hit over and over but not budge or receive an impression. However, it literally means, "leaping back." This assumes that the thing which leaped back was not totally unaffected by whatever caused it to be knocked into the "back" position. I think I like this word even more.

With further exploration, I found that our word "salient" also comes from salire and means, "most noticeable or important," OR–more interestingly–"the position an animal assumes when standing on its hind legs with the forepaws raised, as if leaping." I would like to amend my previous post and say that the illustration wolf mascot should be in the salient position.

So what word would describe something that leaps forward? Prosilient?


This post is a restaurant business idea.

Your multi-course meal is served in the rhythm and style of the story for the night: appetizers with the exposition, salad with the rising action, entreé with the climax...and, well, we won’t spoil the ending. Our culinary and narrative artists unite to give your tounge and imagination an unforgetable evening of surprise and delight. Let your fork tell the story.

This could also play out over tea time, breakfast, lunch, you name it. Some stories could be drama, some suspense, some for children, some for adults. The "waiters" would double as actors to aid the narrator in telling the saga for the evening. This combines the experience of great food and beauty of words for not only a multi-sensory experience, but also a full-being experience, involving also one's intellect, feelings, emotions, spirit, soul, and imagination.

In addition to the graphics above, I have in mind a graphic "mascot," so to speak:
an illustration of wolf in the upright standing position, one that is skinnier that your typical tundra wolf, with grayish-brown coloring, wearing grandma's bloomers that are elastic with a ruffle and with burgundy-red coloring with golden yellow polka-dots, he is hunched over and taking a step forward, his head slightly turned toward the audience, he is coming from the right with his body facing left.

Groups would sit together at larger tables and enjoy their feast together as the story creeps in on them. Is there a large gust of wind in the story? A gust should rush through the dining space. Is the scene of the story in a dancehall? The waiters should arrive with the next course dressed in dancers' clothing and dancing in unison. The guests will feel as though the story is happening all around them.

At at the end (after dessert, after coffee, after a warm hand towel), just as with every good story, the guests should receive a little something to take home with them: a little reminder of the wisdom that the waitcast had to share with them that evening, a little present that guests are to open when they arrive home (for example, in the story "In the reign of Harad IV," they might receive a miniature wrapped in a special box) to remind them of their special evening when their fork told them a story.
This is one of my favorite hymns. I went on a long run into the mountains on Christmas Day. As a light freezing rain storm soaked me, and yet I witnessed the majesty of His creation, this song came to mind (I have bolded my favorite lines):
The locale of my Christmas Day run
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to his temple draw near;
praise him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
shelters you under his wings, you so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how all your longings have been
granted in what he ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who does prosper thy work and defend thee;surely his goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
if with his love he befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
who, when the elements madly around you are raging,
biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
sheddeth his light, chaseth the horrors of night,
saints with his mercy surrounding.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before him.
Let the amen sound from his people again,
gladly for all we adore him.

Words: Joachim Neander, 1680 | Translation: Catherine Winkworth, 1863

I especially want to touch on two of the bolded lines above.

"Praise to the Lord, who does prosper thy work and defend thee."

I was arrested by this idea. And I had never considered how the two acts work together until I started my own business. (I thought the author just wanted to add various love acts of God to the list – why not add, "and He loves us, and He protects us, and He provides for us, and He conquers evil." But I think there is a specific reason the author used these two together. More on that later.) I understand what it means for God to prosper our work–I'd just forgotten that He tells us that He will do it. Now, for all those not familiar with this promise, God does not say that He will make us rich and happy. Instead, this promise means that He will establish our footing, allow that the aim of the work that He stewards to us be achieved. Our English word "prosper" comes from the Latin prosperus, or "doing well." What a great promise?! We should have no fear in taking on tasks great and small. Now, take comfort that it is His aims that are achieved – but don't be confused when it is not your aims that are met. But know this: He will prosper your work.

Where does God promise "prosperity" – or, "doing well" a.k.a. good things, even sweet things?
Disclaimer, again: I don't mean wealth! I mean truly good things, firstly His fellowship and the circumcision of the heart that comes with that, the refining of the soul when he stand in the fire of His glory.

Deut 30:9 – in context, the Lord promises the Israelites that when they repent and obey Him, He will restore their wealth and lands; He is able to do this because the fury of His wrath is kindled with the Israelites confess their idolatry and turn as a nation back to their God.
Psalm 34:10, "Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing."
Psalm 84:11, "For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly."
Hebrews 9, Christ is described as the high priest of the good things that have come, namely, permanently opening a meeting place for God and man through His blood on the cross.

And why does it matter that He defends us? Well, having to do with work, when He gives us good gifts, the people around us in life become quite jealous. They mumble about you behind your back. They yearn for your destruction. They rejoice when you weep. (How can they not understand that they, too, can have prosperous tailored to their needs from an Almighty and loving God?) Yet, He defends us. When making a covenant with Abraham, He says, "I am your shield, your very great reward." Why? What is defense. Defense includes at least two components: to protect (physically from danger, i.e. in a battle) and to argue in favor for (to provide a defense for, i.e. in a court case). Well, the Lord certainly protects us against the powers of darkness and principalities of evil that would seek to steal, kill, and destroy us. But He also defends us from Himself, the raging glory that would consume our sin-ravaged selves if we were to stand alone in His presence. And might I suggest that He also defends us from ourselves? Perhaps from the greedy eyes of our heart that would take the prosperity He grants us and turn to worship it instead of Him!

Well, enough for this post. I will have to pick up with "All that have life and breath" later. As a teaser, I am especially attached to the word, "inspiration," particularly the Latin prefix of in-, "into," and base of spir-, "to breathe."

29 December 2010

Work as an Expression of Identity

I was again watching one of my favorite videocasts – this time from Etsy.com's weekly video.


On October 12, Etsy artist couple Yael Erel and Avner Ben Natan share what their work in creating lightexture means to them.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

"It's a lot of fun to work together. It's a meeting ground where we both come with our strength or understandings and we can find something new and build off of eachother's knowledge and ways of working."

"It's something that comes from my mind and then moves into the physical realm."

"Nature is working all the time. The ants are working and the bees are working. And work is a sort of a movement that naturally happens. Work is what we do to bring out what we have inside into a material place. It's basically just a way of understanding yourself and communicating that to the world. "


Do you see work as a necessary evil or an opportunity to bring something you have inside into the physical realm? Have you found someone with whom you can achieve this sort of expressive work?