Monday, February 10, 2014
Has something ever meant so much to you that you've found it hard to write about it? I've started and erased this blog post so many times because everything I've written has seem too.....light, I guess. Since last Wednesday, when I got this tattoo during a snow day afternoon with a friend at work, I've had so many people ask what it means. To be honest, I've found it hard to explain without a 20-minute diatribe (which would probably be about 20,000 paragraphs here). I'd written a little bit about wanting this tattoo on the blog before, and even posted an excerpt from the book it's from, but it's been hard to put into words just how much this simple little word has impacted me personally. Today, though, I'm going to try. (This is a version brief enough to give Cliff Notes nightmares, but bear with me for now and then go buy yourself a copy of the book!)
East of Eden by John Steinbeck has been my favorite book for.......well, I honestly don't know how long, but it's ages, believe me. The story revolves around this concept of timshel, a Hebrew word, which is illuminated toward the end of the book when one of the characters explains it's translation. The word is found in Genesis 4, when God is addressing Cain regarding sin, following his murder of Abel. In the King James version of the Bible, "timshel" is translated as "thou shalt"--a promise that Cain would conquer sin. The American standard translates it as "do thou"--a command to conquer sin. However, in the book, the correct translation is actually "thou mayest." It's a choice, an opportunity. It's a gift. Timshel means that I guide my life closer to God or further away by my own free will--that God loves me enough to let me go, let me wound Him and walk away rather than control me--and that, because of that gift of love, I have the responsibility to make the best decisions possible in this life.
All that, from one little word.
Thanks for bearing with my not-so-eloquent explanation. I hope you have an amazing week full of opportunities and possibilities. Timshel.