Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wordplay

I just walked upstairs to refill my coffee cup, and was reminded that words don't always mean what we think they mean.

I spent Monday in DC with my new friend, Caitlin Muir from Portland, Oregon. Caitlin is a writer, a dreamer, and a fellow coffee lover, and she brought me some Stumptown Coffee, roasted just twelve days ago. Holy cow— to say this is good coffee would be drastically non-sufficient. So today I'm breaking my "mostly half-caff" rule, and indulging in a big mug of fully-charged goodness. Good coffee deserves good treatment, of course.

Now, fresh-brewed Stumptown Coffee is reason enough to refill the coffee mug today. But the real reason that I had to pour myself another cup is because... I spilled my first one. [hangs head in embarrassment] Yep. Dumped the whole thing over on itself. Last week I finally got around to joining the Starbucks Gold cool club, and when the card came in the mail today, I got so excited that I completely knocked over my coffee mug. Classic.

ANYWAY...

I was in the kitchen, somewhere near the coffee pot, when I heard Sean mutter under his breath, "boxer rebellion." I stopped. I know for a fact that he's immersed in American History right now. I listen to his school video while I work on my laptop in the mornings. I also know for a fact that he hasn't started World History yet, so I naturally wondered what on earth he was talking about. So I asked him.

"Sean, do you know what the Boxer Rebellion is?" He responded with a very confident affirmative. Carter walked into the kitchen. "Well, I don't know what it is," he said. I asked Sean to enlighten us all, and his face grew a little less confident. "Well, I'm pretty sure that I know what it is." "Okay," I said, "tell me what you think it is." His face went from semi-confident to extremely unsure in about 3.7 seconds. "Actually, I don't know what it is. I know what I mean when I say it, but..." His voice trailed off. "Okay, so what do you mean?" I asked. He looked a little sheepish, and then said, "It's when your boxers come up above your pants, and you have to pull your pants up."

And at this moment I almost spilled my coffee again, this time from laughter. I explained what the term "Boxer Rebellion" usually refers to, and Sean looked even more sheepish. He explained that Charlie uses that term a lot (in Sean's context), and we all laughed a bit.

Oh, my family. They never cease to amaze and entertain me.

The whole scenario made me think about the words I say, and how understanding is influenced by context, and history, and culture, and worldview, and so many other things at work beneath the surface and in the air surrounding our words. Given the vast differences between each individual on the face of this planet, I marvel that we can understand one another, at all. Proverbs 2:6 says that God is the one who gives wisdom, and "from His mouth come knowledge and understanding."

I know communication is not impossible, as long as I have Christ as my worldview.

[a boxer rebellion, according to Sean]


And in case you were wondering... yes, Jason Mraz's voice is dancing through my head right now, 'cause "it's all about the wordplay."

2 comments:

Kristen said...

that story brought tears of laughter to my eyes. oh how i love your family....and charlie WOULD be the one to confuse your poor brothers. glad you could enlighten them ;)

linz cap said...

that is exactly what i came here to say kristen....that WOULD be how MY brother uses boxer rebellion.....

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