Why does a poet drool over the sound of a beautiful word? Why does a journalist write pithy headlines the same way a baseball player hits a home run in the World Series? Why do scholars devote their lives to discovering the long histories of words and their places of origin?

Why are we so fascinated?

It is, I think, because words are reliquaries. They hold sacred treasures. They get to the heart of things.

Ken Myers writes, “If we forget how to speak our language, we lose something of ourselves … Our beliefs, our moral convictions, and our attitudes are carried by very specific words and images. Words, not ideas, bring into focus with compactness and intensity what is honored and cherished.”

Just think what would happen if, suddenly, the word GRACE was wiped from everyone’s minds. Or the word JUSTICE. What a world it would be.

I learned a new word just the other day: LODESTAR. A lodestar is a guiding star, used by astronomers and navigators.

So … what is my lodestar? What is yours?

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