Today’s practice: Pick a word — any word. Explore it with a receptive heart and enquiring mind today. Remember, you are a guest in its world. Meet it with gratitude for its hospitality, and a sincere desire to get to know it — its heart and mind, its customs and culture.
Each word is a world, containing nations, languages, cultures, genders, life-forms, experiences, world-views that lend it a wide variety of colours, shapes, textures and resonances. It contains its own history, anthropology and archeology, layers of orthodoxy, heterodoxy, adolescent rebellion, adventurous peaks, low-lying valleys.
A word like “pioneer” or “immigrant” or “refugee” holds a multitude of meanings. It comes freighted with the story of migrating generations, shifting national identities, movements of populations both human and animal, exploration, discovery, displacement, pain endured and inflicted, frontiers breached, boundaries drawn and redrawn.
Begin with an invocation and prayer to the soul of the word you’ve chosen to explore. Ask it, humbly, to allow you into its world, to let you participate in its essence. It is in you, and you in it, but it has its own life, its own singular integrity.
Work outward from there, to understand all that has accrued to it, like nacre wrapped around a grain of sand. Draw on etymological dictionaries, geographical and geological maps of its world, the direct revelations it offers you, and more.
Explore it with your senses. Get to know its tastes and smells, its sounds and textures, its dawn-light and starry midnights. Woo it with poetry, with art, with the gifts you can offer that mirror and express your experience of it.
Each word-world leads you into unknown terrain. Each word reveals both its own mystery, and yours.
Take notes on what you’ve discovered, by the end of the day. What will you do with these discoveries?