W.O.W. – Week # 5 (Charity/Cherish)

W.O.W. 4 & 5: Charity & Cherish

Since I (technically) did not post a Word of the Week last week, this post will serve as both last week’s and this week’s W.O.W’s.  It is actually kind of perfect because these words complement each other and both have played an important role in my life.  I was a little excited about working on these words due to that influence.

I do not talk about religion much.  It tends to ignite religious debates.  I despise religious debates. NO ONE is “right” or “wrong”.  Religion offers humanity a sense of community and that is a good thing.  I am not currently a religious person based on the purest definition of “religion”; I am a spiritual person, and I do believe there is a difference.  Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion as to the differences and similarities between “religious” and “spiritual”.  Obviously, I am not looking for a debate.  I have an intense spiritual history that has shaped my beliefs and I continue to learn each day.

I don’t really like to get into my religious past.  I am not sure how many of you are familiar with what Pentecostalism is.  To be Pentecostal is to live within a subculture quite different from the general American public.  If you’re not familiar with it, I recommend researching the Pentecostal faith.  If anything it will certainly offer you a lesson in religious and cultural diversity.  This week I draw from this part of my personal history.

I went to seminary after high school. I spent three semesters studying spirituality, theology – all that jazz.  One of my favorite classes was simply a study of the Bible. I was intrigued by the original Hebrew and Greek languages and how they were translated into the current-day translations (all 17 kabillion of them). Even if you don’t believe the Bible is the word of God (not that I am taking a stance on that), you have to admit the Bible is fascinating, and I ate it up!  My favorite books of the Bible were written by the Apostle Paul. His letters to the Corinthians were passionate and descriptive. That’s why I like them.  My favorite verse is I Corinthians 13:13, which brings me to W.O.W. #4, charity.

CHARITY (noun)

Pronunciation: ˈcher-ə-tē

I’ll eventually get to the modern, scholastic version of charity but for now I’ll focus on what I was taught about charity.  The King James Bible (authorized Cambridge version) says, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (I Corinthians 13:4-13)

For those of you unfamiliar with the origins of biblical works, the New Testament (the portion of the Bible in which the Corinthian letters reside) was originally written in Greek. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew.  There are those who may argue differently. I am only imparting what I have learned through what I was taught and my own research.  I personally believe this to be true. That said, just as an English word can have more than one meaning depending on the context, such is so with most other languages, including Greek.  In the referenced verses, Charity is derived from the original Greek word αγαπη (agape), meaning “love”.  More modern translations of the Bible have actually replaced “charity” with “love” in many verses, particularly in I Corinthians 13.  These verses are teaching us how to love, not only to love a mate but how to love each other – humanity.  It’s a lesson in kindness, compassion, and tolerance.  Even though I do not necessarily believe the Bible is an exact blueprint for how we should live our lives or how we should seek “salvation”, I do believe it is an excellent source of wisdom for how we should treat each other.  It’s an excellent way to learn from the mistakes of ancient characters, and I believe we should consider heeding their advice.  So many people hear the word charity and automatically think of institutions; dropping money in red kettles outside the supermarket during the holidays.  I am hoping to make people understand it is so much more than that.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines charity as “benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity; generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering; also: aid given to those in need; an institution engaged in relief of the poor; public provision for the relief of the needy; a gift for public benevolent purposes; an institution (as a hospital) founded by such a gift; lenient judgment of others.”  I especially love that the modern-day definition of charity still clings to that biblical definition in some ways – a love for humanity, and “lenient judgment of others”.  I am thrilled that my research revealed that someone still defines charity as something more than donating money or energy toward a cause.  Charity is truly about loving people and showing compassion. It’s an intangible, emotional response between humans – not just the poor or sick.  It’s also leniency given to those we might usually judge harshly and forgiveness for someone who may not deserve it.  It’s a test of our humanity.

Origin of CHARITY

Merriam-Webster says the modern word charity comes from the “Middle English word charite, from Anglo-French charité, from Late Latin caritat-, caritas Christian love, from Latin, dearness, from carus dear; akin to Old Irish carae friend, Sanskrit kāma love.”  It claims the first known use was in the 13th century.

CHERISH (transitive verb)

Pronunciation: \ˈcher-ish, ˈche-rish\

Charity is a kind of love that can honestly be shared with anyone, a complete stranger or the one person you love most on Earth.  Cherishing a person is far more intense.  “To cherish something is to care for it deeply, to treasure it” (Collins English Dictionary). Cherishing someone is more than showing them charity and it’s more than simply loving them.  It’s an attachment, a need, and it’s more than an emotion shared between humans.  It’s an emotional attachment to a person or thing. People tend to cherish things. As an American, I think we put a lot of value in our possessions, and while you can’t show charity to an inanimate object, you can certainly cherish it. The Collins English Dictionary goes on to say, “The verb cherish is related to words that mean ‘costly’ and ‘beloved’. When people really value something, often because they feel emotionally connected to it, they cherish it. Generally, people don’t cherish things just because they cost money; they cherish experiences that matter to them.”

Origins of Cherish

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says cherish comes from the Middle English word cherisshen, from the Anglo-French cheriss (a stem of cherir or cher meaning “dear”); In Latin, carus.

My two cents:

I try intensely not to place too much value in stuff, but I am only human.  Today I found something I thought I had lost forever and I almost cried.  I wasn’t looking in a mirror, but when I found it at the bottom of a long-ignored box in my storage room, I think my neighbors may have seen the glint of my smile through my apartment windows…  I spent more than half my life (thus far) living with my grandmother.  I was living with her when she became sick last Winter with pancreatic cancer.  She died six short weeks later and I was there to watch her struggle to take her last 23 breaths.  When I married my ex-husband my grandmother gave me a homemade copy of all her recipes.  She had photocopied all of her favorite recipes (many of them in her own handwriting) and had the copies spiral bound.  She originally wrote a note in the front of it to me on my wedding day. After my divorce she tore the note out and promised to write me a new one.  She never got that chance, but that cookbook is probably my most precious, cherished possession.  When she died, I had about two days to move out of her house.  I had several friends and family helping me move, but you know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen.  Somehow, I lost several of my things in the moving process – some knives from the kitchen, part of an antique wooden shelf my mother gave me, but the biggest “loss” was my grandmother’s cookbook. I cried for days over it.  Today I was unpacking a box of books that had been in a hutch at my grandmother’s.  The cookbook had been kept in a cubby above the stove. I never dreamed it would be in a box with my Nicholas Sparks collection and a copy of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”.  For the first time since my grandma passed, I was able to touch something that reminded me of her and not cry. I gleamed!

I honestly don’ t have too many “things” I would say I cherish, but I do have some people, many people, I cherish deeply.  If you have a big enough heart, there’s room to build deep, meaningful relationships with the people in your life.  It’s your job to decide who deserves a piece of you and to share of yourself as freely or sparingly as you can and make room when possible.  I am so very thankful for my friends and family. I would start to list names but this post is already long enough and it’s not like you would know who they are anyway.  I just hope that I have cherished them enough that they know how much I love and appreciate them and how thankful I am to share my life with them.

Resources:

“Charity.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2013. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/charity&gt;.

Cherish. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved August 24, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cherish

“Cherish.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2013. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cherish>.

EARLIER POST (8/24/13):

I am in the process of working on this week’s Word of the Week (W.O.W.).  I chose two words for this week as I did not post last week due to some illness and other complications which completely dominated my life.  I am still recovering from an injury that happened at work. (I had no idea how complicated these things could be, even though I WORK in a neurology/pain clinic and we see worker’s compensation cases every day).  I have an impinged nerve somewhere between my neck and my right wrist, causing wide-spread pain in my neck, shoulder, and arm.  This makes working, driving, and typing difficult at times.

J.T. and I are working on moving in together, also contributing to my time management issues.  Moving has proven a much more complicated process than either of us anticipated.  We each live in separate one-bedroom apartments and we each have a cat.  Combining two apartments into one is hard enough, but since he is moving out of an apartment where he has lived for at least six years, there is much more packing and cleaning than we could ever have dreamed up. I am also incredibly anxious about introducing Libby and Sasha.  They’re both incredibly spoiled and slightly agoraphobic. (I’m not exactly assured this well go well.)

As for the word(s) of the week, I have already completed most of my research. I have a biblical reference I am still looking into and I want to work on some content before I finish up formatting/editing. It will likely be tomorrow before I am ready to publish.  As noted in the title, I chose the words charity and cherish.  I also mentioned last week that I would likely use these words either this week or in the future.  These are words that have had deep meaning for me and have played an important role in my life.  They have shaped parts of my life and I would like to share some of that with my audience (as small as it may be).  My hope is to allow these words to impact my readers in a way similar to how they have impacted me.

I’ll return tomorrow to publish the final result.

Much love & many blessings…

Crystal

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