Vol. 54 No. 8 1
Dear Friends, We are almost there! Spring is somewhere around the corner and when it arrives I will feel joyful. With good reason April’s theme invites us to consider Joy. Joy is the evocation of the emotion which comes forth as a result of wellbeing, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires. It is gaiety, bliss, delight. The invocation of joy after a particularly challenging winter is most appropriate and welcome. Joy is an inviting state of being and as Spring emerges I am determined to awaken myself to the possibility of reclaiming joy not solely as a word but fully incorporate it again into my being. Allow me to pause a moment to ruminate on the importance of words. Paul Ricoeur (1913-2005) was recognized as one of the most distinguished philosophers of our time. Ricoeur was born in a devout Protestant family, making him a member of a religious minority in Catholic France. He was best known for combining phenomenological description with hermeneutic interpretation. In my reading of Ricouer I was taken with his description of the “valence of words.” Words he believed were vessels of shared meaning and experience. Words for Ricouer possessed weight and gravity just like the elements of the periodic table. As such, Ricouer believed there to be an alchemy in the combining of words such that we should consider our words carefully and wisely so that we can create opportunities to create shared objects of meaning. I often marvel how words can be undervalued, overused and taken for granted. In sum, if we allow it to happen words can lose their gravity and weightiness. I imagine there was a time when the mere mention of the word Joy evoked the very thing that it defines. Why else would Schiller’s lyrics be set to music in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony?
From the Intern Minister’s Mailbox
Oh friends, not these sounds! / Let us instead strike up more pleasing and more joyful ones! / Freude! Freude! Joy! Joy! Joy, beautiful spark of divinity, / Daughter from Elysium, / We enter, burning with fervour, / heavenly being, your sanctuary! / Your magic brings together / what fashion has sternly divided. / All men shall become brothers, / wherever your gentle wings hover. If words are vessels of shared meaning, we as human beings have evolved language to do precisely what no other species can do. We are able to use language to create shared experience and bring meaning to our lives. I wonder if we could use words in reverse. Rather than having experiences and looking for words to describe the experience what if we selected the words with particular valence and tried to live fully into their meaning? This insists on a different kind of living. Rather than trying to ascribe words and meaning to our lives we could choose to live in an intentional way of bringing into our lives the very things we seek. Consider it. Lastly, the closely days of the Annual Budget Drive are near. I ask you to reach deeply, to stretch, and to find an opportunity for joyful giving in your support of USR. In service, Carlos