It was a cold mid-winter day. A snow-kissed wind kept me indoors. The crossword compiler used words that weren’t in the dictionary. I retired to an overstuffed armchair in a sunny corner of the living room, wearing my Ugh boots, a fleecy jacket and a blanket, and I balanced the dictionary on my knees. It was time for a wander through the black and white garden of the word world.
There is a fascination in the ancestry of words. Some have as many forebears as my old black pooch, Mutt by name and mutt by devolution. In addition to this are those words in which not all the letters, or the indeed all the syllables, are pronounced in speaking out the word. Please do not mention those words which have the same spelling, different pronunciations, and very different meanings. No wonder there are those who claim that the English language is full of pitfalls!
But these are not my interest today. Today I am wandering through the lea of the pages, savouring, sniffing, feeling and examining the facets and the colours.
Consider for a moment the word ‘chafe.’ It feels as it sounds: softly rough, uncomfortable although not heavily abrasive. Over time it gathers irritation, rankles and annoys to the point where it must be dealt with.
Then we have ‘chaos,’ which is what we have when I look for the ointment to deal with ‘chafe’ and I cannot remember where I had it last.
Marching on we encounter ‘froward,’ which is not a misspelling of forward and is a word I first encountered in the Book of Proverbs in the Bible. It is a word which should be kept in the same basket as those mentioned above, as in the end it has a similar conclusion, chafing the soul and causing chaos.
Step into the garden. There is a bush of Rosemary leaning on the sun-warmed brick wall. In the warmth you can smell the sweet, herb-scent of the leaves. This is a resinous plant, with attractive spiky foliage. The flowers are small and softly coloured, clouding the shrub with lilac or white in the flowering season. ‘Rosmarinus,’ “dew of the sea,” provides us with herbs for cooking and oils for pharmaceutics.
Close by is the Peppermint Geranium, another resinous plant used for perfumery. The leaves are large, soft and velvety, inviting you to feel them, to inhale the spicy fragrance on your fingers. In spring the flowers come. Individually inconsequent, they shroud the sprawling plant with a tracery of white lace. It isn’t until the seed appears that you see the reason for the name. Geranos is a crane, and the seed is shaped like a crane’s bill.
The Camellia in the corner is in full bloom. Here there is nothing to taste or smell, the fascination lies in the colour of the blooms. Large and full, they balance and hang contrasting sharply with the shiny, dark green leaves. The colour is almost white, just blushed with pink, but the angels came in the night and striped this one and spotted that with deep pink, painting one or two blooms here and there entirely pink. The Camellia was named for a botanist, Kamel.
The garden reflections have dispelled the chafing of the crossword compiler and brought me once again to the feet of Omnipotence, recalling the days of creation when the Lord spoke the words that brought order out of chaos, called forth light and divided day from night. Through six days His words made everything that was made, and each day He regarded His finished work and saw that it was good.
It took man to mar the splendid creation of God. But the God who created every good thing is also the Omniscient One. He spoke the word of judgment and He prepared a place of forgiveness. He looked down at the blood spilled at the foot of a cross and He knew that it was good. He called for men to take the words of His good news throughout the world.
Men and women of every race have taken hold of the word of God. It has been preached in every land, sung in every clime. Men have wrested it and rejected it. But the word of God still rings true and clear.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Jesus said, “I am the way.”
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