Saturday, July 28, 2012

Complex and purposeful

"You guys, come check out this amazing sentence diagram! Isn't it just beautiful?!" OK, I admit, that was a pretty nerdy thing for me to say the other night. I have this textbook that I kept from grad school - a huge blue hardback book with the title in bold, yellow, capital letters on the front: THE GRAMMAR BOOK. It covers every conceiveable grammatical issue in the English language, how to define and explain it, the purpose behind it, and how to diagram it. The sentence I was pointing out to the girls sprawled all over the page in cascading pyramids and crisscrossed lines... I was impressed.

I like diagraming because it breaks down a sentence word by word (sometimes even smaller) and gives each piece purpose. We don't often consider the words we choose and the order we put them in to express a thought, do we?

I've heard people so many times say that English is a stupid language, crazy and unnecessarily complex... I've even said it myself. But the more I study this language - not just vocabulary, but the arrangement of certain words together, bound by syntax and dipped in semantics - I realize it is brilliantly intentional. The tiny words we seem to toss carelessly around, like of, the, at, and to, each are full of purpose, and when you combine them with other words, their meaning dives into new depths. It makes sense! I still think there are things that are unnecessarily complex, but I like the complexity. The more words and forms of words and combinations of words we have, the better we can express things. Imagine what life would be like if we only used singular nouns and simple present tense verbs! (Seriously, allow yourself a moment of nerdiness to consider that.)

Many of the complications of English come when our predictable patterns are compromised. Why do we have so many irregular verbs, so many plural nouns that don't just end with -s? But just because it isn't the way we think it should be, or we can't understand why, doesn't mean that it isn't logical, that somewhere in history when language was evolving there wasn't a good explanation for it.

I feel like there is a profound spiritual insight in this... would it be too nerdy of me to dig it out and talk about it? Probably so... but I'll just say that I am thankful my God is logical and purposeful and intentional, and at the same time wild and complex and beyond my understanding.

Monday, July 23, 2012

To northern shores

What do North Carolina natives do when they go to the midwest? Spend a day at the beach, obviously! Only the beach here is quite unlike the beaches of the South... Lake Michigan sure looks like the ocean, but it's all a deception. There is no seaweed, no tide, no real seashells, no sharks, and no saltwater. But there is water, sand, and sun, and on a clear July Saturday, it's one of the best places to be. So we packed our bathing suits, towels, and sunblock and headed two and a half hours northwest to Warren Dunes in Michigan.

I read my book on the shore and got an awesome tan, while the others played frisbee in the waves, climbed the dunes, and gathered pretty stones to build an epic sandcastle, which ended up being built on top of my feet. Everyone had a great time, as you can see from our picture!

For those who might be wondering how I managed the sand... well... here's the recipe for success: collect a few of your most innovative and energetic friends and a sled, and strategically place yourself near the largest and strongest men you can find.  I'll let your imaginations figure out the rest. ;) Just know that it involved Moriah holding onto me and muttering, "This is so terrifying!" while I playfully shouted, "MUSH!" (And don't tell her I said so, for fear of her ego exploding, but Tall/Crazy Hannah was the genius mastermind behind it all.)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sowing seeds

Some of our girls came over the other night and helped us plant some herbs to grow in our kitchen nook. And they inspired me to write this poem... (Note: A good sign that my soul is happy is when I start writing poems again - thank you, Jesus!) 

She holds out a hand to receive seeds,
Such tiny seeds, like cookie crumbs or grains of sand.
Before she pours them in the soil,
She pauses and stares, and can't help but wonder...
Can something so small become something great?

She sprinkles them in a spoonful of earth,
Such dark earth, like rich powdered cocoa or grounds of coffee.
As the seeds settle, they disappear,
She cannot take them back or control their fate...
Can something so small become something great?

She pours a little water over the plots,
Such joyful plots, like Christmas packages or pockets of pennies.
With sunshine through a window and a regular drink,
She cares for that which transforms unseen...
Can something so small become something great?

She waits and in a few days she sees green,
Such beautiful green, like living hope or reassurances of promise.
And daily it grows stronger and sweeter,
She aniticipates a wonderful harvest of good things...
For something so small can become something great!

Thanks to the Father, who transforms his seeds into great things that bring honor and glory to him.