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Hallo again to all.

The last week has seen damaging earthquakes across the globe. Myanmar was hit by a 6.9 magnitude quake earlier this week, while Japan experienced a 6.9 magnitude quake on Thursday followed by a 7.0 quake on Friday. The following day, on the other side of the globe, Ecuador experienced its own 7.8 magnitude quake. A 5.6 magnitude quake was felt in Indonesia as well. In total, over 350 people have died with thousands more injured or missing. This proliferation of earthquakes, both in and outside the so-called 'Pacific ring of fire' caused at least one columnist to ask 'Is Earth on Quake Mode?'

The phrase 'earthquake', in its modern usage, a compound of 'earth' and 'quake' dates to 1325 (Þe erþe quaque) and was being used metaphorically by 1592, and appears in Milton by 1641. The now archaic term 'earthdin' which has a similar meaning, dates to 1060. 'Quake' itself seems to have appeared in early Old English (cwacende). There aren't many words that seem to appear directly in English. Ordinarily our relationship to the Oxford English Dictionary involves digging into Latin, Greek, French, or German. We typically delve deeply into layers of meaning and history before eventually remembering to return to whatever it was that led us to this adventure. Instead we found ourselves facing 'Of unknown origin.'

Those definitive words stand strongly, almost taunting in their firmness. A cross between a challenge and a defeat. Three worlds resolutely informing us that the search is, alas, over. Our faithful friend was unable to move us along in our quest. As one of the earliest and most successful 'crowd-sourced' projects, with thousands of contributors, both expert and amateur, that the Oxford English Dictionary project was unable to find more—or, perhaps, that there isn't more—rocked us. It has been rare to find that a word so common as 'quake', a word that we have been living with for this long, which seemingly popped up in Northumbria, has stayed with us for over a thousand years.

How often is it that we are faced with these walls? These blocks that we can somehow not find our way past? Whether in words, relationships, jobs, skills, or finding meaning in natural disaster, sometimes the bigger question is knowing when to journey on through the hardships to complete the research, learn the skill, foster the relationship, or rebuild, knowing when it is time to move on, or even, begin anew.

And that moving on is still continuing.

As the poet Rainer Maria Rilke writes:

Losing too is still ours; and even forgetting
still has a shape in the kingdom of transformation.
When something's let go of, it circles; and though we are
rarely the center
of the circle, it draws around us its unbroken, marvelous

We will see you next week, when we will still be here, struggles and all.

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All of us at Anglicans Online

17 April 2016

For more on the Oxford English Dictionary project and some of its contributors, we commend to you the 2005 book The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester, originally published in 1998 as The Surgeon of Crowthorne .

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