Monday, November 30, 2009

An Occasional Word

It is no secret that I am a word person.  I have no words to describe how words intrigue me, draw me, inspire, entertain, and confuse me.  I love to investigate all kinds of wordage--their meanings, both their denotations and their connotations. 

My word! The word word speaks broad meaning.  You can give your word as a promise, to assure someone. Or you can speak a word of caution or advice. You should keep your word, in the first case, and you should limit your word in the second. People will depend on your word if you don’t break it, but they will ignore you if your outpouring of words is too numerous, too critical or bossy, or too insignificant. You must be a man or woman of your word, standing on that word, and be as good as your word. You must never break your word.

If you are quoting an expert, be sure to do it word for word rather than in so many words, or you’ll mislead somebody. If you take the words right out of someone’s mouth, your relationship might be very close and understanding. If you hang on somebody’s words, you could be in an unbalanced relationship. 

You could be a wordsmith who enjoys subtle wordplay, arranges wording in word processing, or plays word square or does crossword puzzles. You could read the wonderful words of Wordsworth. You could be wordless, which I am not. You could have a brain-lesion problem called alexia that makes you word blind, so you can’t read, and that would be torture. You could look up the 100 most beautiful words in the English language at this linked site.

You could read the word of God. You could see that it is the living word, and in the book of John, you could learn how the Word became flesh in the person of Jesus.

Words have great power, and that’s why the pen is mightier than the sword. But in a word, all this utterance is just so many words.

*For much of this word, I had the help of Webster. And the picture comes from this site:

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Semi-Serious Meditation on Scavengers

The ocean floor is home to one of the world’s largest clean-up crews. Imagine all the leavings of carelessness, death, and destruction that sink to the bottom of the ocean.

Scientists in oceanography have discovered that thousands of scavengers and decomposers, as well as exotic and beautiful creatures, live in total darkness below 656 feet in the ocean, according to this linked Associated Press article on Yahoo.

The AP article says “Thousands of marine species eke out an existence in the ocean's pitch-black depths by feeding on the snowlike decaying matter that cascades down — even sunken whale bones. Oil and methane also are an energy source for the bottom-dwellers. . . .”

The deepest ocean floor is the domicile of giant tubeworms. In the upper areas of the ocean, an Extreme Science site says, tubeworms commonly grow to about the size of your hand, but the deep sea variety of tubeworm often reaches eight feet in length around warm-water vents.
According to the site of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment at the University of Delaware, tubeworms are structurally very simple in that they do not have the internal organs most creatures have--mouth, eyes, and stomach--that aid in finding nourishment and eating.  It was discovered recently that they do have mouths and stomachs in their earliest stages to help them take in the bacteria on which they live. But as they grow, these organs disappear.

The Extreme Science site says
Scientists were at a loss to explain how these tube-worms were getting nutrients to survive and grow. It turns out their insides are lined with bacteria that oxidize the H2S (hydrogen sulfide gas released by the hydrothermal vents), turning it into usable nutrients for the worms. The bacteria, in turn, benefit from the relationship because the worms deliver blood-containing hemoglobin, which helps the bacteria to break down the sulfides.

It is all a cycle whose parts mesh perfectly.

The deep-sea tubeworm is something amazing (among many things) that God has created as part of  the ocean’s janitorial team.  Even nasty oil spill messes can be scoured up and turned into nutrients. The earth is full of highly efficient scavengers and decomposers like buzzards, hyenas, and cockroaches, not to mention fungi, microbes, and bacteria.

Afterthought: A cockroach can live a week without its head! (It only dies then because it can't drink water.)  --A Good Grief! Moment from NatureWorks 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Speaking of Reading...

Here are some great Christian books that I've read:

  • The Bible
  • Bread for the Journey--Henri Nouwen, or anything by Nouwen
  • Fearless: Imagine Your Life without Fear, or anything by Max Lucado
  • Life of the Beloved--Henri Nouwen
  • Mere Christianity--C.S. Lewis, or anything by Lewis
  • Rumors of Another World--Philip Yancy, or anything by Yancy
  • Same Kind of Different as Me--Ron Hall
  • The Irresistible Revolution--Shane Claiborne
  • My Utmost for His Highest—Oswald Chambers
  • Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt and Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana--Anne Rice, and NOT just anything by Rice! I have Called Out of Darkness by Rice, the story of how she came to the decision to follow Christ, to read soon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thoughts on Reading

You can't read and drive at the same time. Well, you could, I suppose, but you might run into a bridge or something worse. I like to listen to audio books as I drive--makes the driving more interesting. I confess that I am an intense bookworm, even the audio kind. Reading is the best entertainment of the world, and listening to books is an excellent substitute.

That’s usually true. However, a recent one I heard was Emma, an unabridged (every last word) Victorian novel by Jane Austen. This book was almost interminable, as the characters conversed on and on about every possible subject, not many of much consequence, mostly relationships. One day as I was agonizing with Emma and her friend Harriet, I thought, This would make a good play, but as a book, it is hard to take. But I was determined, so I gritted my teeth and stayed with it to the long-suffering, happily-ever-after end.

Then I rented the movie, and it was delightful. I was right about it making a good play. Gwyneth Paltrow was perfect in the role of Emma. It was considerably abridged. I even cried at the end.

After that one, I checked out the audio book of Pride and Prejudice, another novel by Jane Austen. Why did I do that? I still don’t know. But after one fifty-mile trip with it, I couldn’t take it any more, and I returned it to the library. I will rent the movie.

I generally love huge, long novels. Last year, when I was going on a three-hundred-mile trip, I bought the unabridged audio version of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. It had over twenty CDs, and I was completely engrossed in that story. I adored Gone with the Wind and Les Miserables and the Mark of the Lion series of three long novels. James Michener’s 900-page The Source and John Irving’s gigantic A Prayer for Owen Meany held me enchanted.

But Emma. Please….no!

The picture was borrowed from Life magazine:

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Peace for Rosie

Rosie* is a ball of raw emotion. She reacts too quickly in anger when her supervisor at work asks her questions that, to most people, would not be seen as threatening. The extreme feelings she has about current situations in her life overwhelm her. She thinks about what someone did or said until it becomes different and hurtful, in her mind. She cries easily and says things she doesn’t mean; she has diarrhea.

Stress is a health-wrecker--frustration, worrying, fretting, being obsessive. And besides that, it makes life chaotic and hellish. Here are some telling statistics, according to this linked article on Web MD:

Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.

Seventy-five to 90% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.

Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, or arthritis in addition to depression and anxiety.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.

The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.

I hope Rosie will be able to find peace. Many people search for it today and don’t find it. Where can you find it? The answer is simple, and maybe that’s why some distrust it, but it is true. Deep, lasting, inner-core quietness is found by trusting in God and looking to him for that peace. A sense of calm fulfillment is possible--IS possible--and this is an absolute truth.

In the Old Testament, Isaiah says if we trust in God, his peace will fill us:

You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3, NIV)

In the New Testament, Jesus beckons to the stressed, the tired, the overwhelmed:

28If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. 29Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. 30This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light. (Matthew 11, CEV)

The Message translation says it another way:

28-30"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

That's my prayer for peace.

*This is not really her name; she’s a composite of several stressed-out people I know.