In the jumbled mess of different languages and cultures and translations (upon translations, upon translations) most people see flaws and discrepancies - but Eugene sees potential and beauty. His point is that the more phrases, adjectives, and metaphors we gather to describe God, the better we are for it in the end.
I'm a person that LOVES listening to english as a second language (ESL) speakers because they show you words in a new way, so for that very reason - I must say, I agree...
A few years ago, I was in a coffee shop that had a couch piled high with pillows. A family from Eastern Europe was next to me and their little boy was bouncing, laughing, airplane-ing his arms out and falling backwards onto the plush pillows. His embarrassed mother came over and said "Please excuse him, he feels freedom." ah. that makes my heart burst! No one trained in this language would say something so beautiful and perfect and so mind opening!
This all brings me to my renewed, lenten love for the Our Father. Did you have any idea how many translations are out there for this simple prayer? ... and I don't just mean the "Forgive us our sins/debts/trespasses" question. (But while we're on the topic, I love the phrase 'trespass' for sin, because how often do we hurt others by crossing over their invisible boundaries and we might not even know it. I think that's a beautiful way to think of things)
Three weeks ago, I was told a possible translation for the line "Lead us not into temptation" and it's played in my head every single day since. It's led me to read the whole prayer in every hebrew, greek, and pig latin translation I can get my hands on. The result has been so gratifying.
The alternative line of prayer is, "Let us remember our true selves." Let us remember our true selves. It's so different from 'Lead us not into temptation', yet isn't temptation just abandoning who you are? and instead of seeing how they're different, I've been seeing how they compliment each other. Let us remember our true selves.
This year, I wanted to add to lent and not subtract from it by giving things up, so spending weeks with these lines has been quite nice. I used to feel that different translations were to be pared down and figured out, now I'm adding to them, expanding. It enhances everything to let go of the 'strict word of God' in this way - it feels freedom.
I worried about how to edit this (very long) post because my thoughts on each new line of just one prayer could fill a chapter. But, I'll spare you that, and finish with an aramaic translation of the Our Father that I like quite a bit...
O Cosmic Birther of all Radiance and Vibration.
Soften the ground of our being and carve out a
space within us where your Presence can abide.
Fill us with your creativity so that we may be
empowered to bear the fruit of your mission.
Let each of our actions bear fruit in accordance with our desire.
Endow us with the wisdom to produce and share
what each being needs to grow and flourish.
Untie the tangled threads of destiny that bind us, as we release
others from the entanglement of past mistakes.
Do not let us be seduced by that which would
divert us from our true purpose,
but illuminate the opportunities of the present moment.
For you are the ground and the fruitful vision,
the birth, power and fulfillment,
as all is gathered and made whole once again.
amen. and so be it.