Monday, September 12, 2011

Non Timebo Mala

Foreign phrases often sound "fancy" for want of a better word.  I've addressed people in German, in Gaelic, and on occasion in Latin only to have the uninformed think I'm uttering curses or some such.  Latin, being considered a "dead" language, isn't taught as it once was in higher education and learning it presents a difficulty.  Even though the Roman Catholic Church (my faith) gave up Mass in Latin when I was a small child, echoes of it linger and I happen to find listening to Latin Mass rather soothing.  I learned my prayers in Latin as well as English.  Although they don't have to do so, my children express a desire to do the same.

Non Timebo Mala is my daughter Megan's new favorite phrase.  It means "I fear no evil" and comes from the Vulgate version of the Bible from the 23rd Psalm:

Nam et si ambulavero in medio umbrae mortis, non
timebo mala.
The entire phrase says for though I walk through the midst of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.

Oh and it's also used on occasion in the television program "Supernatural".

Whether the phrase comes out of the Latin Vulgate Bible, any modern translation of the same, from a popular television series, or from reading, it's a good phrase to know.

No matter what anyone's personal belief system may be when it comes to matters of deity and spirit, most of us admit evil exists.  It may include human evil which walks abroad by daylight in this era and time or evil from the very pits of hell but evil is out there.  It may be perceived evil in the form of a monster, killer tornado that destroys the heart of a city (like Joplin on May 22 of this year) or a family's home (as it did mine many years ago).  It could be other extreme weather, criminals who seem intent on mayhem and meaness, bullies, and so much more.  I'll not name anymore because I happen to believe that if you name a thing, it fuels it with more power.

I see so many people today who live in fear and while I understand why they do, I reject both fear and evil as much as I can.  I am only human after all.  But to adopt "non timebo mala" as a personal mantra or motto isn't a bad idea at all.  To live without fear is another good thing.

One of my great-grandmothers was born in Indian Territory (meaning Oklahoma long before it became a state.). She was proud of that fact and that she came to Missouri in a covered wagon when her family relocated to the fertile, fat farmlands of northwest Missouri.   When she was a very old woman living in the small rural village of Fillmore, some jail escapees were caught after a several day long manhunt across the road in an old barn.   My mother asked her if she wasn't afraid and she answered with calm confidence "No, when you get as old as I am, there's not much of anything left to be afraid of."

That's how I want to be and I feel that I'm a long way toward that goal now.  My mother, however, as a senior citizen is afraid of almost everything and fear rules her life.  She's become so obsessive about weather that she fears any thunderstorm within five hundred miles and that's just one of many fears.

I learned a different lesson at my Granny's knee - that when life kicks your ass you get up and go on even if you may be bleeding or broken.   She wasn't afraid either in her old age.

A couple of years ago my mother paid me an ultimate compliment when she told my children that their mother wasn't afraid of much of anything and I'm not.

That doesn't mean I'm reckless or careless by any means.  If I hear a tornado's coming, I'll take shelter.  It does mean however if I'm a guest at a hotel where fire erupts, I'll do what must be done and never think about the consequences until later.  Even so, I wouldn't have done anything different.

Non timebo mala.

I will fear no evil.

Good words to start out a Monday with.

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