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I love words – and language. And how they function.
When I graduated from college, my mom told me she would buy me any gift I wanted – within reason. I asked for a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary – the desk version which you have to read with a magnifying glass.
It is still on my desk to this day.
I used it to write this podcast.
I wanted to look up two words, ones I love the meaning of and which have profound theological meaning: translucent and diaphanous.
They both refer to an object’s ability to let light pass through. One is the latin version of the word, the other the Greek. Trans in Latin means through, as in to pass through – as does dia in Greek. Phanos is the Greek work for light or torch; and lucent means shining, from the Latin word for light which is lux.
So, something that is translucent or diaphanous has the quality of letting light shine through it. It is almost as if there is a willingness to humble oneself in order for something else to shine in you and through you. And as that light emanates from you, you become a vessel through which another light can be seen.
That is very moving to me.
It strikes me as a beautiful metaphor for discipleship.
It is in the act of being and becoming a disciple that we seek to let the light of Christ shine through us. It is our hope that in the love we share, what becomes known is not what we have done to make that love possible, but the Christ who is the source of that love and light within us.
Jesus embodied the spirit of this translucency when he spoke these words: not my will but yours be done.
I heard it through my childhood when Mrs. Weinzirl would end every class with us in prayer, and every prayer with these words: “may all we do bring glory and honor not to us but to you, O Lord.”
I heard it in the prayer of St. Francis: make me a channel of your peace.
I hear in the opening line of my favorite hymn: “Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart – naught be all else to me save that thou art.”
There is something about the emptying of ego that allows for us to become diaphanous, translucent creatures through whom the light of God’s love can pass.
I seek to be that person – one through the light of God’s love can be seen.
May there be an abundance of translucence on our pathways in life. May the diaphanous ones among us shine and in so doing extend the love of God to all the ends of the Earth on this, our journey Into the Mystic.