We’ve just endured a long political season filled with loud, ugly, abusive, and repulsive words, and only a smattering of words meant to lift our spirits. During those months—and through these weeks of unrest—I intentionally sought beautiful words that conveyed gentleness and helped me leave behind the badgering.
Here are a few of my favorite words from nature that helped quiet my anxious mind.
Evanesce: to disappear slowly; vanish; fade gradually away from sight. The imagery usually associated with this word is clouds, especially morning clouds, those slight wisps of strati that reveal the colors of a sunrise, and diminish as the day’s light intensifies. There is a sense of evanescing in my heart when insight—an enlightening—dissipates whatever accumulation is blocking clarity.
Pullulate: to send forth sprouts or buds; to exist abundantly. I love how this word spans the essence of plant life. Nature not only brings forth new growth, but does so in cyclical fullness. We often pray and work to pullulate love of Christ, and to do so in a way that is gradual, gentle, and fruitful. A nice image for steady evangelization.
Deliquesce: to melt away. Something fascinating takes place with certain species of mushrooms; once fully developed, they use their own enzymes to break down and liquefy to allow their spores—their seed, if you will—to develop. It’s a kind of self-sacrifice to nourish new growth. Sound familiar? Yeah, dying to self—John 3:30 says something about that call to deliquesce in our life with Christ.
Brontide: the low rumbling of thunder moving towards and past; the sound of seismic activity. Our senses rouse with an anxious awe at these sounds. Something powerful and possibly threatening is moving our way. We may wonder in an instant if the threat of a storm or the dangers of an earthquake will come to our door. The tide of sound reminds us at a fundamental level of our frailty and the magnitude of God, and the brontidian appearance of the Holy Spirit as the apostles were in the upper room.
Refulgent: shining brightly, radiant. Fireflies and jellyfish—and a few other species—contain elements within their bodies that make them bioluminescent. They create light! My prayer during the weeks ahead is that more of us present refulgent faith that creates light for others to see.
Elysian: blissful, delightful. The Elysian Fields of mythology were the blessed place for the dead; a place of perfect happiness. Many of our neighbors struggle and in their current circumstances are hard pressed to find happiness. Some are now filled with fear and dread exacerbated by recent events. I hope together we can encourage one another that some of that elysium can be possessed this side of heaven.
Estuary: the mouth or lower part of a river where it meets the sea. Early on in seeking a relationship with the Holy, I was thrilled at all the symbolism of an estuary when first I saw one. I heard it first, a small rapidly flowing creek rattling pebbles as it flowed down and in to the Pacific Ocean. It seems obvious now that no matter how small the flow, we can be estuaries, adding to the ocean of Mercy.
Apogee: the greatest distance from. The excitement over the recent super moon, at its perigee (closest approach) to the earth, held much of the world in wonderment. Sitting in my back yard, thoroughly wrapped in a blanket, I too wondered at Sister Moon and the cycles of faith. If I am circling around Jesus, when do I find myself at an apogee of distrust?
Pellucid: allowing the maximum passage of light. A friend from church is a mental health therapist. One Sunday I shared with him my satisfaction at having washed windows—a simple task with sashes that unclip and flip in—before winter. He replied there are few things that delight a therapist more than when a client tells of pulling back curtains or cleaning windows; they have opened themselves up, so that healing may increase all the more. I liked the imagery, the opening to an increase of light, and how it relates to reconciliation—a pellucid state of the soul.
Nastic: You may recognize this botanical term with a visual reference: the opening or closing of flowers in response to the changes in intensity of light. The fuller definition is of or showing sufficiently greater cellular force or growth on one side of an axis to change the form or position of the axis. An opening in response to greater light. I sense, sometimes, a nastic reorientation to the light of Christ, which draws me to open all the more.
Let’s think about those last two definitions for a week or two…