Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ancient Words & New Beginnings

Last night, I logged into a language program called Mango, which is offered through my library.  I selected Biblical Hebrew as the language I wanted to learn and did the first lesson.  At the end of the lesson, I was able to read and say Genesis 1:1 in Hebrew.

Beresheit bara Elohim et hashamayim v'et haaretz

Genesis 1 has always, always been a favorite of mine.  I could read it over and over.  Even in English, it is beautiful poetry, but there's something about being able to even just barely understand it in Hebrew that has made me feel a little emotional.  I've always thought that by learning Hebrew and Greek it would make me feel more connected to the words of the Bible, but *thinking* that and then *feeling* it --even though it is only one verse-- makes a big difference.  I had no idea that learning one verse would affect me in this way.  It's  nothing compared to how many verses there are and how much there is to learn, but it is making me feel things that I can't quite explain.

There is something special about being able to read and say those words, something that reminded me of how ancient they are, how they have been passed down for thousands of years, how the words of God brought life to creation.  It was a brief moment in time when I could sense more deeply that the Kingdom of God can break into our world at times when we do not anticipate it happening.  

It made me think of the lyrics to "Ancient Words":
Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world
They resound with God's own heart
Oh, let the ancient words impart

There was life in those words that I said.

I've been wearing my chai necklace for about two months now.  When I first wrote about it, I wrote " There's something about knowing how ancient the words are, how the word chai takes us back to both creation stories in Genesis: living creatures, every living thing, the breath of life.  It's more than the use of the word there, though.  When I look at the first creation story, when "the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep" (1:1), it is as if everything is asleep, waiting silently for God to wake it up and help it to come alive and realize its full potential."  I reread that last night, and was aware of just how perfect my word "alive" for the year has been.

I have felt more alive in the first couple of months of this year than I have in a long time.  In addition to what I have already written in my #ComeAliveSeries, I have had another experience lately that has given me hope and made me feel alive: I've applied for a part-time job.  If it works out, it'll be a great fit for me, and I'll be working with a friend that I think will be a great boss.

I have written before--multiple times--how I believed that God was behind the move to this town more so than any other time in my life.  I couldn't explain it and have spent just over the last two years waiting and wondering and praying.  At times it has been difficult.  After all, I loved my last job and was sad to leave it.  When I mentioned the way that opportunities are coming up to my "The Story" discussion group the other night, it was amusing, because someone said "well, you've been asking for this, why are you so surprised it is happening?"  I really don't know why I am, or if surprised is even the right word.  Maybe it is awe, or thankfulness, or joy.  I do know, though, that God's plans are much better than what I can come up with on my own, and I hope that I will continue to seek God's guidance.

The Mango program told me that beresheit actually means "in beginning"; there is no "the".  In beginning God created.  We all have to start somewhere; we all have to create new beginnings at different times in life.  We begin life as babies, when we start school, when we learn new things, when we have new life experiences.  Life is a series of creative beginnings, and something new is beginning for me now.

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llennhoff said...

It is interesting that you started learning Hebrew with a verse that is subject to great dispute over its exact meaning. I think that is great - you've begun immersing yourself in the sea of Torah. If you look at the Stone Chumash on Amazon and use the search inside feature for the word beginning you can see a summary of some of the traditional commentators various points of view. ( )

Kelly J Youngblood said...

Well, I started with that verse because that's what Mango used in Lesson 1 :) I'll check out that link--thank you!

Kelly J Youngblood said...

Lol...I followed your link...that's the Chumash that I have :)

llennhoff said...

I'll see if I can find an article available on the web talking about the biases in Artscroll's translation. All translations have biases, of course (the Italians say (in Italian) "the translator is a traitor") but it is always good to know about your translator. (When I was in Junior High School I read 4 different translations of Dante's Inferno and learned a lot from each one. It left a big impression on me.