Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I got smacked in the face by a word.



I was completely determined NOT to follow the crowd this year and choose a Word of the Year.

Instead of making new year's resolutions, All The Cool People were choosing a word of the year. Sometimes they even prayed about their word, asking God to lead them to just the right one. They shared their words on their blogs, often with lovely photos of their word written artistically on a chalkboard or carefully lettered on a canvas. They were generally positive, encouraging and inspiring about the whole process.

Somehow, I just wasn't feeling inspired.

I did it last year. I had a word. I even wrote about it for someone else's blog. I know it's a thing. I see the benefits.

This year, though, I just couldn't get into it.

Sometimes, getting through the day-to-day, nitty-gritty details of life like cleaning toilets and planning meals takes enough energy. Who has time to choose a word?

(I know. Lots of you did. I just kind of opted out.)

Last weekend, I found myself without my children, alone with my husband, walking slowly through Carytown in Richmond and going into vintage shops. It felt unhurried, relaxed, and amazingly easy. I couldn't believe how much joy I felt simply from being able to look at things without hurrying, without someone tugging on my clothes or calling my name or crying that he or she had been hit in the head.

While waiting for a call that our table was ready for lunch at a restaurant up the street, we wandered into an antique shop that specializes in jewelry. George had bought me an antique rosary there many years ago, and I'd always wanted to go visit the shop myself. We browsed around a while and came to a case with a bowl full of old silver charms.

I still have (and wear) my old silver charm bracelet. My grandmother gave it to me for Christmas when I was in sixth grade. At the time, it had a snowman and a tiny piano dangling from it. I've continued to add charms to it. Every time we take a trip or hit a major milestone, I put something on the bracelet. My mom gave me a tiny silver wedding cake when I got married. I added a little turtle when we visited Hawaii, a pair of baby shoes after each of my children was born, a running shoe after my first marathon. I often wear the bracelet to Mass, because it's the perfect thing to keep a small child quietly entertained in a pinch. They all love to turn it slowly around and look for their favorites: the dinosaur, the double-decker bus, the Squirrel Nutkin.

Other people's charms fascinate me. They're like tiny windows into people's lives, and I love looking at them. Staring through the glass case at the pile of antique charms, I saw the state of Iowa, a boy's silhouette with the name "Thane" on it, a tiny baby rattle. Then I noticed a flat, silver disk with a single word engraved on it:



Gaudeamus.

Let us rejoice.

George is the Latin scholar in our home, but from SuperSam's jump into studying Latin this year, I've grown to really appreciate the way that endings shape the words' meanings in that language. It didn't say "Gaude!" or "Gaudete!" - either of which would have made more liturgical sense, either of which would have been more commanding.

Gaudeamus.

Let us rejoice.

It felt gentler, somehow, a call to something forgotten, a reminder that we do, in fact, rejoice. Sometimes, when things are rough and we're distracted and overwhelmed and struggling, we forget...but somewhere, deep down, the desire is there. The impulse, rooted in our very being, is to rejoice, even when we can't think of a single good reason to do it.

Gaudeamus.

Let us rejoice.

We wandered to the back of the store, where we snickered at some porcelain Kewpie dolls and exchanged glances about an icon of the Infant Jesus of Prague that was the very definition of kitsch. We saw some lovely jeweled pins and an entire case of clip-on earrings like my Nana always used to wear. In my mind, though, I kept on seeing the simple engraved text, and I knew I needed the charm on my bracelet and the word in my heart.

Gaudeamus.

Let us rejoice.

When I forget there is a way forward, I'll remember the word. On the days when I have to reheat my coffee five times before I get to drink it, I'll remember the word. At times when it seems like nothing is going right and it's never going to get any better, this is the word that will come to mind.

Gaudeamus.

Let us rejoice, even the most stubborn among us, because we're made to do just that.

(Sometimes it just takes a while to realize it.)



This is Day 2 of the 7 Posts in 7 Days challenge hosted by Jen at Conversion Diary. To see the other blogs participating, go here. You might find some new favorites.