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THOONK! An empty silence filled the kitchen and dread immersed me within its hairy tentacles. I had finally done it: splotches of applesauce on the kitchen floor, its loosened cap still in my hand.

With breakfast completed, I decided to put off the clean-up—however I would manage it. After sipping some lemon water at the sink, my not-fully-awake hand knocked over the pitcher onto the counter and floor, soaking my furry slip-ons. I was done.

Yet, instead of calling for my neighbor, I began to strategize: paper towels, a wet dish rag, my indispensable grabber, my bare feet, and my stool. No matter that I was weak and short of breath, I would take the needed time, apart from my routine. It would work, and it did.

So, what does this say about my commonsense, about my need for help, yet, going it alone? Often, I find myself in problems of my own making, the residue from decades of living in denial. Happily, this condition is lessening due to my continuing decline. Neighbors are only too delighted to help out whenever I ask.

Yet, doing it my way is still rooted in my psyche and speaks to an essential trust seamed with cracks and debris.

I’ve still much to learn about letting go and letting God take charge.  My transition requires it, or at least my willingness to learn with each spill, of whatever kind.

For decades, walks on wooded trails pleasured me with intense beauty, but simultaneously left me aching to articulate the experience. I did not have exact words to name trees, wild grasses, birds, flowers—indeed the seasonal world around me, Creator God’s continuous gift.  

Then, a friend alerted me to Braiding Sweetgrass—Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants (2013), written by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a SUNY professor of botany, a researcher, an author, an ecologist, and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. This collection of essays is not book to finish but to savor as antidote for the global ills that sap our humanness.

Critical to this process is Kimmerer’s ability to intuit stories of healing in the natural world, as did her ancestors, who left rich legacies to supplant the wash-out technologies that imperil our world even further.

The sacredness of the land is also central. With its accompanying mindset of gift, gratitude, and generosity, braided within stories of her tribe, her students, and her ongoing ecological research, the author enlivens fresh hope in her readers who continue buying her book. Indeed, all of life contains modalities for this restoration and embellishment, if sought after.

I wonder what would have happened if the Native Americans had colonized the European settlers to the New World, rather than what occurred.

Braiding Sweetgrass empowered me with its simplicity and wisdom of language; its spiritual nourishment. I’m glad whenever I peruse its pages.

In this morning’s conversation the word prickle caught my attention; its explosive consonants have a long usage: from the Old English pricel, an instrument for puncturing sharp points; from the Middle Dutch prikkel; and from the Middle Low Germanic base of prick.

Living languages morph into cognizant meanings, until dropped altogether onto the bone pile of letters. A cursory reading of the Oxford English Dictionary, currently under revision, reveals this pattern.

We see this evolution in the word prickle, both the verb and noun form, around twelve hundred when its figurative sense emerged: the cause of agitation, distress, or trouble. Late fourteenth century heard prickle as inciting or stirring into action. In the early fifteenth century, audiences heard Shakespeare’s use of prick in his comedy As You Like I, combining the vulgarism with the standard meaning of the noun, the act of piercing or puncturing. Other writers of his time did similarly.

Most linguists believe prick has only been used as a direct insult since 1929.

But enough about the history of prickle or prick.

Today’s usage also implies varying degrees of pain: from the behavior of active alcoholics, from canes of raspberry and blackberry bushes, from unwanted advice, from diseases, from high stress, from avoiding emotional truth.

However viewed, this blog invites us to be more careful with our use of language. Say what you mean and mean what you say. It works…

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