What’s in a Name? Only Everything {an Advent Post}

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There can be no manner of doubt a name is more easily remembered when its meaning is understood.  –A.J. Macself, from the Foreword, “Plant Names Simplified”

I forgot to plant my amaryllis bulb the week of All Hallow’s Eve. I wrote about the practice in my Christmas season book, how planting a crinkly, brown bulb with antenna-like roots can be a lesson in patience and waiting during the Advent and Christmas season. But I was too busy to remember. Goodness.

So, I potted the inglorious bulb the other day after soaking the accompanying ground-up coconut shreds in warm water, watching them miraculously expand and nearly overtake my 32-ounce glass measuring cup. Amaryllis duly snugged into plastic container, I pondered something while I cleaned up the mess in my sink.

What does ‘amaryllis’ mean, anyway?

I’m fond of learning the Latin for plant names, shrubs and trees. As an amateur gardener, I pride myself on the pronunciation and meaning of the various denizens of my yard and garden. And some of the names are not Latin at all, but simply named for people or a place.

Amaryllis. Well. I went to the bookshelf and took down my slim green volume of “Plant Names Simplified–Their Meanings and Pronunciation,” (A.T. Johnson, 1931, W.H. & L Collingridge, U.K.) No matter the book is missing pages 51-82, duly noted on the inside cover by me in July 2012. (It’s a very old book and was gifted to me when a friend found it at an antique store.) I needed only go to the beginning of this plant dictionary; I knew the A entries would all be there.

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Of the two names given to each plant, the first, which may be likened to our surname (or first name) is the generic, or group name. This can occur only once, as a group name, but the second, the specific (or species) name is only given to one plant of the same genus, as is a Christian name in a family, and may occur in many different genera. (From the Introduction).

The elegant amaryllis, I discovered, has only one name and is neither Greek nor Latin, but a “classical name after that of a shepherdess in Theocritus and Virgil, Greek and Latin poets.” I was pleased to find this entry as I’m an aspiring poet and also was taken by the fact that it is after a shepherdess. The final bloom of an amaryllis can nearly be equated with the crook of a shepherd’s staff, I suppose. And, there is the occasion of planting an amaryllis, during that season that precedes the birth of Jesus, our Shepherd.

I think about the name Christian, which “occurs in many different genera.” ‘Genera’ is of course the root word of generate and generations.

The generations of Jesus have continued for hundreds of years. and beginning with the first root of our family, that stump of Jesse-Jesus, will continue to grow. I am forever grateful to claim Jesus’ name as my own, and identify with the Christ, my Saviour.

The name above every other name.

The Light that is coming in the dark days of Winter.

Emmanuel–God with us.

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Leafworks {a #poem}

Like the bound bud in the almost

bloomed magnolia, there is life

ready to burst, tight secrets

on the God side buried within

these cool, bright days.

I’m waiting, watching, counting

the sleeps until a quiet

wonder world awakes. Amazed,

I waltz between the longest watch

from each dormant doorway,

through the chill and darkened

mornings to a heart like an open gate.

Ear cupped, poised for my next

birth, I linger for delivery

of the morning’s message–

free and God-breathed–

a silent, green unfurling.

——-

Begin Again {a #poem}

2015-10-09 07.06.05.jpgSeptember’s singular day arrives with the turning
of many pages, paper or otherwise. Limbs of another
rich and growing year branch upward, leading
to vistas bright and unknown. An imaginary climb,
I’m grateful for handholds, eyes on the open, azure sky.
Did Eden’s first morning in that tree-filled glade
startle the couple awake, their eyes on a new dawn?
Burst with the gift of hope, that unknown need of a
fresh start? I say yes.
This new day, like that one, rich with possibilities
awaits as we journey. Now at a walk (or sometimes fly)
and fall, sure of a steady Hand to right us.
Our steps re-turned to the Kingdom, the sound
of that Voice birthed anew in the blazing
blue that calls towards home.

 

65 is Just a Number {a #poem}

P_20180222_085138-1068896429-1545607297305.jpgThere is no statute of limitations on vision.

My old eyes register a darting messenger of
God’s blatant, creative joy. Watch the winged
creation hover in a web of air.
Spy a sleuthing intruder
snap-tapping its way
across the wood, tunneling
away and down the outside stairs.

No expiration (yet) for hearing,
cataloguing birdvoice and the
chipclacking of breakfast
at the feeder, the squeaking
insistence at the fountain.

Teach me to number my days, Lord,
to register the ways your wind
ruffles the tablecloth in the morning’s
gentle breeze, how cool, shortened
shadows signal this sea change
of a season rippling towards
quieter times.

May I live this calendar daily,
not ticking days toward the end
but aware and alive and about your
business, not counting lost hours, but
living into your addition, subtraction
multiplication, division, the only
math that matters.
c. Jody Lee Collins 2017