Prepositions and Miracles
As you know I love feedback from you guys, my readers and followers. It is, after all the purpose of this blog – to engage in conversation as we engage in our living. I do not identify the responder unless they request it due to privacy concerns and respect but I do value each of you deeply. Over the weekend I was asked a really interesting question: Aren’t these myths out of date?
I mentioned several days ago that a family member had been in an automobile accident and was in a coma. She remains in a coma and while some progress has been seen, the outlook is still up in the air. In other words, we are hoping and praying for a miracle. Tomorrow her youngest will celebrate her second birthday so while it has become the new “normal” to visit her in the hospital, this celebration of life is also reminding us of the fragility of life.
The mythologies of mankind also served to remind us about the fragility of life. While they seldom called the endings of their tales of colorful characters, fantastic exploits, and incredible out-of-this-world powers “miracles”, that is how other writings would classify them. More importantly, they were guidelines for living and, since we are all still living, then I don’t believe them to be out of date.
Depending on the culture, the purpose of the myths varied while many of the characters and deeds were strikingly similar. While there seems to have been a “parallel development” as Carl Jung phrased it in the development of similar stories, some simply choose to believe that these commonalities are the result of travel. They believe that, like the trade winds that carried the trading vessels to all parts of the world, exploration and travel carried the stories that were then altered to fit the culture. I choose to believe there is a much simpler answer: We are all human.
In the throes of tragedy or great confusion, we need to make order out of the chaos. It is how our brains function and the mind works. Our eyes see everything as it is but how our brain interprets those visions is not always accurate. Place a large rectangle in a room identified to us as a bedroom and the rectangle is first thought to be a bed because it makes sense. That is why fifty eye witnesses can all be telling what they perceive to be the truth and yet none of them tell the same story.
Mythology is the collection of man’s attempt to make order from the chaos that life sometimes throws our way. The stories may seem unbelievable to those of us living in the twenty-first century but that is just because we have become egotistical. We think, with all our technology, that we know all the answers. We don’t even know all the questions so how can we possible know all the answers?
One of my favorite parts of speech is the lowly preposition. Like the myths of old and even those newer ones, prepositions give us direction. Place the candle…where? On the table. Run…where? Up the hill. Where is she hiding? Around the corner. Often overlooked, the importance of the preposition is found in its definition: “a word governing, and usually preceding, a noun or pronoun and expressing a relation to another word or element in the clause”; “a relationship between other words in a sentence”.
Mythologies, those weird stories about even weirder deities that can’t have possibly defied the laws of gravity to accomplish what they allegedly achieved, are all about our relationships – to nature, to each other, to ourselves, and to the universe. A simple word such as “in” or “after” or “on” may seem insignificant or meaningless but really, without them we would be lost. We would be left with only “here” or “there”. We would have no relationship with our living.
I cannot prove that miracle have ever occurred but to an ancient Greek or aborigine, I think the lifting of a space ship that then circles the planet while men and women live within it might just qualify. What we consider science today was once an imaginary story, the dream of someone many considered crazy. The miraculous cures that saved many from plagues and viral epidemics are science but they are also answered prayers.
In December we will discuss prayers for all cultures have some sort of them, regardless of what they are called. Today, though, think about the prepositions in your speech and your actions. I picked the cup of tea up off the table. I pushed the vacuum across the floor. I placed my hand on the puppy’s head. I also petted the cat but anyone who is owned by a cat knows the cat places their head under your hand! I raise my spirits and prayers to the supreme being of my beliefs. It may be neither here nor there but the fact is we are here and, for my at least, mythologies still hold meaning. And I will continue to have hope that my family member will experience the miracle of science and faith in her recovery.