Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Word on Wednesday: Remarkable

"Remarkable" is  somber and reflective; it can really deliver precision if used correctly. Remarkable requires one to pay attention, because often the most remarkable circumstances are the easiest to overlook.

The definitions: "notably or conspicuously unusual; extraordinary" and "worthy of notice or attention." The definition has not changed much since its French 17th Century roots.

I find happenstances remarkable, because they can be explained away as mere coincidence without divine or universal forces creating the connection.

Take for example, a writer picked up the pen for the first time as a serious pursuit in several months. It felt good and affirming. That same day, very same day. Someone sends a note with a blog post and poem she wrote for consideration of publishing.

The kicker ... the piece was written in 2016! TWO years earlier, and it was decided to dust it off on the very same day that the first writer decided to blog with a clearer intention.

The word Stylus (find my original blog post on it here) inspired her post then. I consider this guest post, published two weeks ago, brilliant, thoughtful, inspired, and generous. You should read it here

Few things are really "remarkable," but that doesn't stop people from remarking. Maybe this coincidence is not that remarkable to you, but I share it regardless.

My hope is you too will take note on those remarkable coincidences in your life. Is there a nudge from the universe? Is there a cheerleader in your path? Is there a connection to an old friendship? Is there an affirmation of the direction you need to be stepping toward?


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

A Word on Wednesday: Bread

Walking into a kitchen with freshly baked bread offers one of the most soothing and comforting smells. It subtly invites gentleness and goodness. The aroma calls, "you are welcome here."  

Concretely, "bread" is a noun naming the food made of flour or meal mixed with milk or water, made into a dough or batter, with or without yeast or other leavening agents, and baked. 

World Communion Sunday is a celebration observed by several Christian denominations, taking place on the first Sunday of every October that promotes Christian unity and ecumenical cooperation. It focuses on an observance of the Eucharist. Across the world, Christians will gather on Oct. 7, uniting in Christ in fellowship with one another while being connected to an approximate billion partaking in the same ritual. 

However, the idiom "break bread" is indeed very secular as an expression to eat a meal in companionship with others. The fellowship of sharing a meal is common in business, in family, and in community. Working lunches. Team dinners. Birthday parties. Fundraising meals. Soup kitchens. 

A meal anchors us. The bread basket is passed, which we accept as a warming ritual of connecting. 

Abstractly, "bread" can be shorthand for food or sustenance or even livelihood and, in slang, money. Author Sue Monk Kidd offers this abstraction: "Our stories are the best 'bread' we can offer each other." 

Stories can comfort, welcome, and connect us. What can be said to one another to emote that same warm invitation as a lightly-browned loaf? 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Guest Word: Stylus

Thank you to my friend Nissa Enos for writing a fantastic essay and poem about the word "stylus." Ms. Enos lives with her family in Manitowoc, Wis. She likes science, nature, and art.

These pieces are about aword and about a boat. I hope you enjoy her reflection as much as I do. I tried to write about "Stylus" before. You may read my take here.

About the Word Stylus
By Nissa Enos

A discussion opened up the other day; it centered on the meaning of the word stylus.

You might think that the word stylus only applies to a writing utensil that is used with a computer, however, stylus actually means any tool used for inscribing the written word. Is a quill pen a stylus? Yes. Is a Bic pen a stylus? Yes.

Although typically applied to a tool for writing, stylus can also mean any utensil used for inscribing non-language imprints on a surface. One example would be in sculpture. While the clay is still wet, the sculptor may use a stylus to imprint patterns or other detail on the surface.

In addition to writing and sculpture, there are many other uses of “stylus.” When we listen to vinyl, a diamond-carrying stylus receives signal from the bumps inside the grooves of the record. In geology, the seismograph detects vibrations within Earth and uses a stylus arm and ink to plot those vibrations on a scrolling paper tape. I wonder if you could set up a seismograph in your basement or yard and use it to track nearby road traffic. The occasional passing of a train would be cause for much excitement. A nearby, loud thunder clap shakes above-ground structures quite a bit. How much of that pressure wave translates into Earth vibration? A stylus (attached to, of course, a properly set-up seismograph) could reveal the answer.

The creator is at the handle end, and the viewer takes in what the creator has imprinted.

Oh, and there is one other definition of Stylus. She is a cool sailboat from Manitowoc, Wis. She is dark blue and has a natural wood sail holder. She is often on the Lake but sometimes she comes up the Manitowoc River.

What is the Stylus? The sail is the handle, guided by two creators, the wind and the captain. The hull on the water is the imprinting tip. The Stylus’s line, her word, her story, is the journey she traces over the waves. Who creates the record? Who will read it?

We are too small to read the record, and know what it means completely. Instead, we find ourselves poised at that active vantage point, riding the nib of the pen, watching the line being writ, seeing from water level, but only imagining the view from above, the course being charted, wondering what message we are part of tracing out.

By Nissa Enos
Fast motion, sun on water.
We, not holders of the pen
but viewers,
riders on the nib.
Normally creators
but now
part of the tool.
As we fly on the waves
what is written
the sun can see.
What message we trace
the wind can write.
For once
we don't hold the pen.
Instead we ride at the nib
on the hull
over the waves.
Seeing but not issuing
the speed of the light,
the choppy water.
Wondering what
from the sun's vantage point
is the message we write.

Again, thank you Nissa Enos for this prose and verse. These words are a treasure.