The semicolon declares that what you have experienced is not the end, but just the beginning of your story.
I have a semicolon tattooed on my right forearm. It reminds me that each day is part of a new story, part of a better future. The semicolon is a radical declaration that your story is not the end of things for you. No matter how difficult, how painful or how bad it has gotten. Life can be better.
Depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts once had control of my mind. But now today is a new day. I have a better future. The story is not complete. My semicolon allows a new and a better story to be told.
How about you? Do you have a semicolon in your life? You don’t need a tattoo, all that you need to do is take some time to pause.
Lessons from a semicolon
Semicolons join two independent clauses in a sentence. The semicolon links ideas and makes them whole. This is why I see a semicolon as a spiritual declaration. All of the independent things in my life have a purpose. When things feel like a mess and I feel as though I have little control, I know that hope is not lost.
In a previous article, I wrote about the semicolon, and humorously said,
Common punctuation marks can lead to an uncommon life
We all know how to use commas, and in fact, they are everywhere… a little like dandelions. The period ends things and declares that a sentence is over, the chapter is finished and the book is complete. Question marks are interesting and lead us to more, but they are also too common. But the semicolon, it is unique.
I think the semicolon contains some hidden lessons about living well. And contrary to what Oprah and Martha Stewart tell us, living well is not about the kind of soaps or creams that we use and it is way more than buying infusers.
The semicolon shows you three things about how to live a more spiritual and satisfying life:
- It is an active pause. The semicolon can be miraculous because it is an active pause. Prayer is like that and so is meditation. Not avoidance, but an active pause to ask for help, to rest, to go back to our Source.
- It links major elements of your life. The semicolon links one statement with another and connects one idea to the next. Sometimes life can feel disconnected and confusing. Taking time to pause, to reflect, to pray and to meditate connects us to what is most important in our lives.
- It is unknown and under-utilized by most of us. Most people don’t know how to use a semicolon. It is one of the most underutilized punctuation marks in the English language. Taking time to pause and to pray is not something that most people do. But that does not mean that it is not important.
In Arabic, the semicolon means that the second statement in a sentence gives meaning to the first. In other words, the second half of our lives is used to interpret the first half. Usually, we get it backward. We live with the past always on our minds and hope that the future will be different. But that’s backward because the present and the future give meaning to our past.
In the New Testament, in Mark 1:35-45, Jesus took what I call semicolon time.
While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed… A leper came to him, begging on his knees, “If you want to, you can cleanse me.” Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.”
In these verses, Jesus paused and he prayed. In Mark, this is his first encounter with a social reject, a Leper. I believe that taking time to pause and pray gave him the presence and peace to love and to accept the leper.
In a way, taking the time to actively pause was the precursor to a miracle.
Your semicolon time is no different. It can give you the presence and peace to accept your inner lepers and other people that you may tend to reject. You have inner lepers, areas of your life, parts of yourself that you easily reject. God has them there for a reason. There is a purpose for these unwelcomed parts. Pausing can help you to reclaim them.
Life can become too busy. The crowds and pressure to go with the flow will confront you. Automatic thoughts, judgments, and stigma can fill our minds. Often, we are cruel, harsh and hateful to ourselves. What can prepare you and I is taking time to reflect, to pause and to pray.
The semicolon contains a lesson about healing, reclaiming the rejected parts of ourselves and about how to get more out of life. Today, take some time for yourself, some semicolon time. Reflect, read, meditate or pray. Do you what you need to do to find your active pause.
If you liked this post, you will want to read another recent post called The Crayon Whisperer.
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Keep it Real;
Photos by Josh Parrish and smswaby