I know what someone means when they say “I like the way it captures the light,” but the semantics of the phrase is off. And semantics matter.

Can you feel the difference between “time out” and “rest”? Between “packed” and “abundant”?

A dear friend pointed out these very words in the messaging I was using for our upcoming maiden retreat. She noted “time out” and “packed” have associations that run counter to the notion of “retreat” and to the message I wanted to convey.

I rephrased the messaging because semantics matter. I worked “rest” and “full garden” into the language, words more aligned with what I really mean.

Crystals and Light

My fascination with crystals probably began in a science classroom, maybe before high-school physics. According to Google, the differences between reflection and refraction are taught in 5th grade. If that holds true for the early 70s, I learned about light, refraction, bending, and rainbows from an Australian teacher in a small classroom in Spain.

At 64, my heart still dances when the sunlight finds the crystal that hangs in the window above the kitchen sink and scatters rainbows.

You might exclaim, “I love the way your crystal captures the sunlight,” and I’ll know what you mean even as I trip over the word “capture.”

The crystal has no hands. It doesn’t grab, hold, stop, imprison, or in any sense capture the rays.

The crystal is strangely inert, “strangely” because so much happens even though the crystal is perfectly still. On sunny mornings, at least thirty patches of rainbow scatter across my kitchen, ceiling to floor.

The crystal doesn’t capture the light, but rather allows it, and in the allowing, the light becomes more.

And in that shift of language, I discover a lesson in crystals and light. If I’m busy doing important things or taking stabs at fulfilling a grandiose purpose and never slow, never pause the doing to be, never stand still to receive the gift of light that comes, what’s all the doing for?

I can’t (and don’t want to) capture the light. The semantics imply I would be keeping it away from others. Instead, I’ll be still to receive the light, to let it bend and refract through me. As the rays multiply, casting more light and more color, I become more.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2023