December 5–Hope: What’s cooking?

In yesterday’s post, I observed the 13th century origins of the English word Hope, and how the English roots seem to be specifically Christian terms for salvation from hell by God.  I suggested that as Unitarian Universalists, we might re-shape this future hope into a present concern for the worth and dignity of all beings, the search for truth and meaning, and the struggle for a justice that means surviving and thriving–for all beings.

There’s more.  Linguists list a Proto-Indo-European (PIE) root for the word hope.  PIE is the reconstructed language that linguists believe lies behind most of the languages spoken in the Indo-European countries and those which extend from them.  They have reconstructed the word kwep as the root of our word hope.  Kwep means ” to boil” or “to smoke” something.

That’s an interesting idea.  Smoking and boiling is what we do with food preparation.   To hope for something in that context is to take the actions necessary to prepare food for ourselves, our family, our community.  I’m imagining preliterary cultures who used this word to describe the things they did every day to take care of themselves.  To kwep (hope) was some set of actions one did today so that shortly (enough) there was nourishment for the village.

It can be how we treat folks today so that shortly enough there is dignity for the village.

It can be how we search together today so that shortly enough there is truth and meaning for the village.

It can be how we engage in the world today so that shortly enough there is justice, equity and compassion for the village.

Our village.  Our world village.

So, let’s talk about hope.  Let’s talk about what we are cooking today.

Bob Patrick

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