To love and to cherish

by | Mar 2, 2006

Gotta love etymology.
The word “cherish” came in loud and clear during a meeting with my spiritual director this morning. We were talking about a right-between-the-eyes “I get it” experience I had a couple of days ago. I was driving back from a phenomenal (in every sense of the word) seminar with Amy and Arnie Mindell in Yachats, Oregon, reflecting on and sniffing out the essence of what I do. I realized that my greatest gift is intuition and in order to use it skillfully I need to be a clear, grounded, and open channel through which insights and impressions can flow. Then the truly mind blowing realization occurred: the most important task I can do each day is to take impeccable care of myself.
I’ve had a bumpy relationship with self care over the years. As important as I know it to be, I’ve always been turned off by self care approaches that feel narcissistic, precious, even whiny. This distaste has grown in the past year as a fierce appetite for clear seeing and speaking has awakened in me. I’m interested in “coaching for grownups,” I thought. Where does self-care fit in that? (And how could it not?) I did not want to confuse answering the call to living one’s essence with cultivating a hot-house flower. I did not realize that the fierce and urgent call I felt was, at least in part, a fierce and urgent call to self-care.
Back to etymology. The Indo-European root for “cherish” is ka. According to Joseph Shipley’s The Origins of English Words, this root meant desire. In Latin, ka became caritas or love. Shipley suggest thatCaritas was transliterated rather than translated in the First Epistle of Paul, where we read: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
Desire…the spontaneous movement of the spirit towards its source, as the plant leans toward the sun. Love…the action of desire toward that which it desires. Charity…the conscious participation in the dance of all things. Today it seems that something of this sort is waking up in me, revealing the fierce and urgent nature of cherishing myself, cherishing my clients, and from this cherishing to let right action, right thinking, and right livelihood follow.