Lost in Translation
Warning: blatant religious talk ahead. If this is not your thing keep scrolling. And I am fully aware that when I post with overtly religious tones (opposed to simply. “spiritual”) some followers immediately jump ship, and that is okay. But I’m starting off topic. Let me begin again, which is really what this post is about, beginning again. But first I have to talk about repenting, and now you really think I have lost my marbles. But I can assure you that I am not talking about asking for forgiveness (though I do that on occasion). What I am talking about is the original meaning of the word repent. I often look for ways in which ancient texts translates to contemporary life, and this is one example.
Repent is a Latin word which was translated from Greek which of course was the original language of the Christian texts. The Greek word for repent is metanoia, which translates to English very differently. It comes from two words, meta (meaning change or shift) and noia (meaning mind). So in this way rather than begging for forgiveness it could mean to change one’s mind or have a shift in views; a new way of thinking, if you will.
So in the famous words of the cousin of Jesus, John the Baptist, and the Christ himself, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” John calls out these words—wailed them—in the desert (Matthew 3:2) and these were in fact some of Jesus’ first words of his ministry (Matthew 4:17). In other words, we are being told to think differently or shift our thinking because the kingdom is here and now.
Later, in Luke (17:21), Jesus tells us that the “kingdom is within you” (or “in your midst,” depending on the translation). My favorite is in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas (saying 113) where we are told that “The kingdom of the father is spread across the earth and people do not see it.”
Another favorite, and unrelated but still connected, comes from the words of Paul in his letter to the Romans (12:2), “Do not be conformed by the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Again, and in other words, think differently or have a shift; a new paradigm.
This morning while I was mixing a bread starter and having a coffee I listed to a person on NPR discussing her book and how we all have to power of change within us, and that sometimes it takes a change in the way we think (I’m totally paraphrasing). This is what I was thinking about as I walked to the coffee shop and where I now write these words.
I’ve had a busy couple weeks, both internally and externally. Some days—most days—we get so caught up in our own little dramas that we forget to look at the incredible beauty which is often right in front of us, or to used the cliché phrase, we forget to stop and smell the roses. I know that I do.
The best part is, is that we can start over at any time. Often daily or even hourly. I know have to do this. Change your thoughts and the world around you changes.
Life is not always easy—we all know it can be incredibly difficult—and it is not always pretty. But it is an incredibly beautiful gift, and time is too shot not to see it. But now I’m rambling which I often do. I’ll get off my little soapbox.