Wednesday, April 25, 2007

An interesting word...

I am a geek - no, truly I am. I even have a note from a friend confirming it as fact. However, very few of my friends know the depth to which my geekiness goes. As most writers, I am an adorer of words. Unlike most writers, however, I have taken several classes on the history of the English language and even, God help me, have learned to pronouce a few words in old English. Like I said - complete geek. (But no, I do not bite the heads off chickens. Sorry - historical joke.)

So, as a lover of words and their meanings - both past and present - it has always been a bit startling to me that my mother has issues with certain words because we are Jewish. I can understand some, they are not pleasant to hear and are rather mean, invoking feelings of anger because they encourage negative sterotypes very similar to the ones encouraged by Imus recently only against Jews. However, there is one word which I believe to be a beautiful word that gives my mother pause. That word is "blessed."

The definition of the word "blessed" from has eight parts including: 1) consecrated, sacred, holy; 2) worthy of adoration, reverence or worshio; 3) divinely or supremely favored, fortunate; 4) blissfully happy or contented; 5) beatified (Roman Catholic Churc); 6) bringing happiness and thakfulness; 7) (informal) damned; 8) (informal, as an intensifier): every blessed cent. Except for number 5 which is a specific definition for the Roman Catholic Church, there is no express mention of a particular religion or religious direction for "blessed" in the dictionary. To me, this means it is a word that is open to all peoples regardless of their faith and should be used in the context with which a person is most comfortable and that fits the situation. In other words, its a word.

The problem my mother has is with the context that "blessed" is most often used. When she hears "blessed" she hears "blessed by Jesus Christ," which is itself a stereotype. To her, this context means that the word is off limits to anyone other than Christians. I do agree with her in certain situations. I have worked in many a federal building and had people greet me or say good bye by saying "Jesus bless you" or "You have a blessed day" only to get a small pit in my stomach and feel like saying "Whatever happened to the seperation of Church and State???" There are places and situations in which to use this word, just like any other word.

I am different than my mother when it comes to this word. When I hear "blessed," I think of the Wiccan invocation "Blessed be" as well as "Blessed be by God" as well as "Blessed by Jesus Christ." In other words - I hear so many different faiths and spiritualities using a word that beautifully describes an incredibly full heart. In deference to my mother's sensibilities, however, I haven't used the word that often scrambling, instead, for other words to attempt to describe the feeling. I have decided to stop that for a number of reasons. Reasons number one and two are my husband and my son. I am truly blessed - I have said it before, I will say it again and again and again. My husband and son are absolute blessings in my life that I cannot imagine being without and I cannot imagine another way to describe this feeling other than to use the word "blessed."

Poor, maligned "blessed" - a word that is so big, so beautiful and so full - to be stereotyped and pigeonholed when it can be used, and should be used, in so many situations by so many people. I would like to hope that if more people actually listened to their hearts and used the word "blessed" for that almost indescribable feeling that there may be a bit more peace individually, and maybe, eventually, more globally.

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