Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thalpo

First. I'd like to thank everyone who participated in Word association#1. There were, besides my own, the following answers...


  1. Honesty

  2. Trust

  3. Non-existent

  4. Balance

  5. Mutual

  6. Mutual(I love my wife!)

  7. Honest

  8. Koozy
  9. Divine
  10. Safe


There were no wrong answers given...which is NOT to say that there are no wrong answers. I believe that there are, but that's a blog for another day. The answers that each of you gave, give an insight to others as to your value system, which is why it took courage to "play". It also, hopefully, gave you insight into yourself...made you examine that system of values, and find a way to articulate it. So, once again, thank you.


Someone took the time to look up thalpo and give all of you a definition, as well as some of the etymology of the word. It does come from the word "Thallos"...it does mean to warm...and it is translated as "to cherish". The real question is why? What does warming something, especially in the sense of warming that which was previously cold/frozen, have to do with our definition of, "to cherish"?


Those of you who have followed this blog for any time know a few things about me...my schooling, why I taught myself Greek and Hebrew(to what little degree I know them), and my trust issues...as well as my propensity to tell stories, especially true ones, to illustrate a point. So, here we go...


Fourth year of college. Sixteen years old. Doing word studies on Ephesians chapter 5. Thalpo for cherish. I looked the word up. To warm. Didn't make any sense to me. This was back in the day. No Internet searches. You went to the library. I read everything I could at our college. Went to a few others. Nothing that really explained the etymology of the word...at least not to my satisfaction. Another student saw what I was doing. Sensed my frustration. She directed me to a professor.

He was the professor emeritus of Ancient Classical languages. His specialty was Koine Greek. This is what he told me.

The Ancient Greeks were very smart. They used their language like a tool, much to their benefit. That is why you see so many compound words. Very descriptive. You are correct that the root for Thalpos is Thallo...to warm. You're wondering how it acquired the idiomatic meaning "to cherish". It starts with a severe case of frostbite.

They lived in a mostly Mediterranean, temperate climate. Extremes of cold were uncommon, until the expansion of their world through travel. People would occasionally suffer from hypothermia. They, of course, didn't know that there were three stages. Nor could they take some one's temperature. We know that once the body has reached stage three, when the person's temperature drops to 89.6 degrees or below, death usually ensues unless proper care is given. Even then, there is no guarantee. They had no manuals. Everything was by trial and error. Blankets and a warm fire work for the first two stages, along with brisk rubbing...not so much for stage three. I can only imagine the horror of the first few people who briskly rubbed someone in stage three, only to have something break off. Horrible.

They discovered that the best course of action when someone was that cold, was to put your naked body next to theirs, and then cover both of you with a blanket. The Greeks understood heat transference. This gradual approach was the only one they had that worked. Their was, however, one great danger in this approach. The colder body siphons off heat from the warmer one. If the conditions were bad enough...if the person was cold enough...then you could, yourself ,suffer from hypothermia in your attempt to save someone else. You could do great damage to yourself...up to, and including death.

You can live for many days without water...much longer, if necessary, without food...you cannot live very long without your body's heat. To be willing to risk that...to be willing to give someone the essence of your life...well, hopefully you can see how that word came to mean to them to treasure...or to cherish someone. Is there anything else I can help you with?

I went to this wonderful man many more times. He was always very gracious. I am grateful to him still.

I learned all of this long before I ever met my wife. Long before...and yet, the irony of her name doesn't escape even me.

Life had left me cold...cold enough to be close to emotional and spiritual death. You see, when your in stage three, you stop shivering. It becomes harder to think rationally. You begin to hallucinate. You become a danger...not only to yourself, but to others...especially those you love. I was raising two little girls alone...and I was making them cold as well. We were all in great danger...and I was too cold to even recognize it.

Then Cherish came into my life. She gave me, and our daughters, her warmth...at the risk of her own life. She saved them...and she saved me. She cherished me back to life.

All that I am...all that I have...all that I ever may have, or be, that is of any value, is because of her. Because she warmed me back to life.

She cherished me.

For me, then, the one word was easy...

She is my love...my life...my breath...my everything.

Cherish.

2 comments:

PollyB said...

That is so touching....I love what you write...especially when you speak of your wife and your family. Hope your computer is up soon!

Christopher Blake said...

Writing about Cherish is like writing about pure beauty...the only difficult part is that words are never adequate...

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Christopher Blake is a loving husband...devoted father...minister...crippled ex-cop...screenwriter...novelist...actor...and more than a little rough around the edges...