What's in a Word | All Blogs


By Debra Dobbins

“Omnipotence” is easier to understand if one breaks it into two parts: “omni” (all) and “potence” (power). When it came into English in the early 1400s, it strictly meant “only of God or a deity,” according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. It wasn’t until the 1590s, the dictionary notes, that the word took on the “general sense of ‘having absolute power or authority.’”

Two other “omni” words, “omnipresent” (present everywhere) and “omniscient” (all-knowing), are apropos to the season. After all, the jolly fat man manages to wiggle down millions and millions of chimneys at once, and his naughty/nice lists probably eclipse even NSA’s data.

Reading Dickinson’s quote this morning reminded me of one of my mother’s favorites: “We have within us, each one, more of this power than we will ever spend — such misers of miracles we are, such pinchpenny guardians of grace.”     Frederick Buechner, A Room Called Remember

Like Dickinson, Buechner notes the power in each one of us, but he chastises us for not exercising it more. Well, if Buechner were ever to visit the Grand Valley, I would hope he’d be heartened by the paucity of “misers of miracles” here, especially during the holiday season.

Seems to me that many folks individually and in concert with others are working miracles, big and small, in a myriad of ways. Today a photo on page 6A shows Community Hospital employees loading up food and Christmas gifts for The House, a home for at-risk teens. Food and clothing drives are in full swing, Salvation Army bell ringers are out in force, toy bins are filling up, and the list of good-hearted deeds goes on and on. These deeds are all vivid reminders of why this valley is truly grand.

Ladies in red: Sue Buskist and Lynn Lickers take a break from some high-energy bell ringing on a nippy December day. Sue’s loyal friend, Bailey, sports his reindeer antlers. (Photo by Debra Dobbins)


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