Growing up, I was told that my uncle believed cursing was a lack of vocabulary. I heard it so often, a word seed was planted.
A few years later, sitting at my grandmother’s dining room table, one of my aunt’s oldest daughters home from college the guest of honor, talked to us about her adventure. I was in middle school. She was so beautifully grown up – and I didn’t understand half the words she said. I asked her how she knew all those words – and the vocabulary seed was watered.
It is interesting, how little sentences here and little sentences there, leave an impression, light a fire that drives to excel. As a result, I worked hard, read a lot of classical literature to grow my word stock.
One afternoon, at my grandmother’s house along with my mother, Aunt Joyce, and my first-born who was just learning to sit up, a language mishap occurred. I failed, faltered – and, well, I put my wordsmith reputation on the line.
I’d just got up to go around the corner to the kitchen. There was a little hallway with a telephone desk between the family room and kitchen. Going around the corner, my very not-so-funny bone smacked into the desk – and a very lack-of-vocabulary word flew out of my mouth.
Dead silence replaced the chattering in the family room. I think the blood rushed from my head. I felt dizzy, but knew I needed to face this head on – but not before I peaked around the corner.
My mother and Aunt Joyce sat there, looking at my grandmother, waiting for her verdict. My son sat totally content, not understanding the expected set-down, a reputation-ruining set down. After all, to this group of esteemed women with memories like elephants, if you opened one present early on Christmas and re-wrapped it – and they found out, well, then, you were labeled an early-sneaky-present-opener for the rest of your life.
All eyes were on my grandmother, the matriarchal woman who taught me that if you could stand up to her, you could stand up to anyone. She had what I call “the power of the eye” – where with one look, her green eyes could slay you on the spot.
As the silence stretched, my reputation hung in the family room like an outdoor laundry line hung with ones intimate private unmentionables.
“My mother always said there was a time and a place to curse, and, I believe, you just found it,” she finally said.
Graceful redemption! The chattering picked up, the incident left behind. The lack of vocabulary incident was never mentioned again – while my Christmas-present snafu is bantered about all the time.
I’ve told you these little vignettes about vocabulary, to well, talk about vocabulary – particularly the over-used and potentially definition devolving word – love.
Love should never be diminished – the act or the definition.
It’s true – I might “love” your hair-style, your shoes, your photo you posted in your blog, your cake – even the ideas expressed in an article you wrote. Sadly, the use of love in this way is evidence of my laziness, the vocabulary slacker in me, the wordsmith on holiday. If I weren’t such a literalist, I would be able to write a funny, tongue-in-cheek post about it, but because I’m a literalist – I can’t even fathom how to do that.
As a result, I wrote an “I love” not-quite-a-poem about all the things I love – stretching those wordsmith muscles in a much needed way.
admire, applaud, respect
Jane Austen, Margaret Wise Brown, Charles Dickens,
Jesse Stuart, Tolkien, Frances Hodgson Burnett,
Robert Browning, Joan Walsh Anglund,
and Sam McBratney
Relish, savor, indulge in
orchard vanilla black tea
white hydrangeas – blue and green, too
yellow spring jonquils
fluffy pillows and goose feather blankets
cultivate, treasure, drink in
quiet time looking out my bedroom window
simply watching the burnt red of Dogwood
tree leaves where birds that stay
through the winter stop by for
admire, cotton to, still smitten with
my forever man who told me he loved me
over 33 years ago at the red stop light
in his daddy’s red and white truck
at the corner of Lancaster Road and the Eastern By-Pass
Delight in, luxuriate, breath deeply
vanilla and lavender
cloves and oranges, too
making me smile in the easy and hard
moments of the daily
Cherish, marvel, hold dear, safe guard
newborn smells and how
they fit against your heart,
lean against your shoulder
trusting without questioning
like God wants us
to trust him
revel in, feast on, count the awe
the stories – funny moments, sacred sharings,
bed-time chronicles and wedding proposals
hubba-bubba, you’re a cake, and are you man-enough
kitchen counter lectures
loving to God’s beard and back
the journey of prayers sent out come home,
miracles and moments done right
fight for, don’t give up on, believe in God’s plan
my sons beyond the stink
of Sweaty soccer cleats and socks
the quest for becoming their own man
and the uncomfortableness of holding my belief set
under the microscope of independence to
determine the truth and merit of a daddy and mama’s
faith and reasons
before claiming it for
Esteem, glorify, honor, worship, adore, marvel
Shaddai, the might one of Jacob,
Jehovah Shamma, just as He was there in the low, dark part of the challenges, in the emotional cyclone that can sometimes be a part of raising boys to men
Jehovah-Raah, The Lord My Shepherd, encouraging to love better, forgive better, be his child better
Jehovah Rapha, the Lord that Heals physically, emotionally and spiritually – and He breathed His Holy Spirit into this spent soul
Jehovah Jireh, who reminds me that He will provide, not just the outside stuff needed for growing a family, but the inside stuff I need – like the manna He provided for the Israelites – that He gave them more than enough everyday – His storehouse is open for me – already equipped for everything I need
and in this grace-filled love affair where I learn what true, pure, real God-designed love is . . .
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogantor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Cor 13: 4-8)
(Note: a well-developed vocabulary does not immunize against foot-in-mouth disease – which is a whole different post)