I would like to take a moment to call your attention to a microscopic fragment of English syntax that recently snagged my soul a little: the colon. Or this thingy [ : ]. Let me first define the technical grammatical powers of these two neatly stacked specks, and then I will explain why this tiny unsung hero had such force on my not-technical, not-logical-neither-law-abiding heart.
“The most common use of the colon is to inform the reader that what follows it, proves, explains, defines, describes, or lists elements of what preceded it.”
From the Wikipedia entry for Colon (punctuation),
“The colon… introduces the logical consequence, or effect, of a fact stated before… introduces a description; in particular, it makes explicit the elements of a set… also separates the subtitle of a work from its principal title… introduces speech.”
So, basically it’s saying that whatever thought follows the two dots belongs within the thought that came before the dots, and can frequently be regarded as an explicit description of the first thought. Now here’s the application test. Open your mind, and take a second look at this familiar phrase:
“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”
Take that colon for ALL it’s worth, and I think you’ll start to see something funny, but not something to be laughing at. What that little colon does is tell us that the family is THE proclamation to the world. And what does it proclaim?
The family IS the epic testimony that we are something more than just another class of living organisms trying to work out some kind of commensalism with everything else here on planet earth. It proves an extraterrestrial, but not alien, origin of man.
Is there not something universal, poetic, and heart-gripping in the image of a man standing protectively between wife and child, and harm’s way? When you’re thrown out over your couch in a posture similar to your grandmother’s afghan, watching that old classic of the dying single mom and her two kids, does your heart not bleed? When your kid brother hasn’t written or called you for months, doesn’t it feel like there’s a laser boring an increasingly large hole right through your chest? No one taught you these reactions, and we can’t really explain them entirely. They just kinda come with our programming. Regardless of age, tongue, or culture, we all share an obsession with family relationships.
Why do we need those relationships anyway? I’m positive that no mosquito holds any bosom-warming regard toward mother or child, and yet they are still wildly successful even as relatively unnecessary members of most ecosystems. LOVE! “Love!” cries the lyricist, philosopher, psychologist, psychiatrist, social scientist, politician and poet. But what on Earth is love? Is it of Earth at all? The best star-spangled, new-fangled science would have us believe that it’s a precise blender mix of all the right juices and hormones swirled around to perfection up in your noggin and not much else. But no one who has ever been in love before, including all those advocates of the “blender mix” sporting lab-coats and statistics, will deny that locking eyes with their lover is like looking through a window to…somewhere else they don’t understand but feel very acquainted with. Regardless of age, tongue, or culture, we all share an obsession with family relationships No one who has ever held their own precious, minutes-old infant will ever tell you that their heart wasn’t racing and they didn’t feel breathtaken as they cradled that tiny life for the first time. No one who has ever lullabied a true friend and treasure at the edge of mortality will ever tell you that love is merely a chemical reaction. Love is the one shining remnant of memory from a life long ago that we can cling to. It is the most ennobling, and ultimately the most deifying element. And no, it is not strictly native to Earth.
We can love and feel love because we are members of God’s family. Love and honor are the sources of His power, and we’ve inherited a sensitivity toward these things. This family that we belong to is comprised of a Father, Mother, and children: us. Each son and daughter is a chain link in the race of gods, with the potential to become as He is. A chick will grow up to be a hen or rooster. A kitten will grow to be a cat. Any sensible person would say it is nonsense to believe that a puppy would grow up to be an alligator; that simply opposes all the laws of nature. But, it is perfect reason to say that if it is possible to believe that you are God’s child, that it is destiny for you to be like Him, that is, a regal and supreme creator. And that’s what He wants for you.
The families we live with here are models of the family we came from and a prototype of the lifestyle intended in the eternities. Embodied in the family are all the principles and essential creative powers that make gods different and…well, gods.
What the family, as designed by Heavenly Father, proclaims to the whole world is that there is a purpose and a plan to life. It paints a “why” for the things we do every day. We can love and feel love because we are members of God’s family It screams to the world that because of your own divine origin and destiny, you can achieve whatever lofty dream you have inclination toward and be whomever you’d like to be. It gives you reason to believe in yourself, and other people, too. It gives you reason to believe in a Living God.
In this phrase, those two tiny dots, aligned so neatly, help me see where the dots in my life need to be connected. They align me with a cause much larger than me. They inspire me to give a voice to the most important things. Let’s give a round of applause for the little guys!
Abe is an outdoor-loving lady, with a special affinity for back-country powder skiing. By day, she loves making her kindergartners laugh, but when night falls, she digs writing music, experimenting with food in the kitchen, and singing karaoke way too loudly. She hopes to make it to Disneyland before her spell breaks and she grows up.