Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sincerely Yours

Tonight I wrote a rejection letter to someone who submitted an essay to Literary Mama. I hate writing them, and every time I struggle with the wording, to be gracious, honest, and sincere. In fact, I closed with "Sincerely," which brought this (with revisions) post (from my old blog) to mind.

I fall in love with words. Sounds silly, I know, but I do! I love how the English language provides a broad variety of words to express precisely what I want to say. I love the connotation and nuance of them. I like to say words that fill up my mouth or create a gymnastic exercise for my lips and tongue: discombobulated, tumultuous, persnickety.

I also enjoy learning about word etyomology, so a story I read many years ago about sincere captured my attention. It was a charming story of how Greek column makers used the roots sine (without) and cera (wax) to advertised their marble columns. Disreputable carvers hid column flaws by filling them with wax, but a column advertised as sine cera meant the column was pure marble. Over time, the word entered the Greek lexicon and was used to describe other things that were honest, pure, or clean.

Sometime later I bought a tape which included the song "Sincerely Yours," about writing a letter to the Lord. My knowledge of the word's root coupled with my desire to love the Lord with all my heart, mind, and soul, prompted me to make the song's words my life's motto.

But as I close, I see a phrase I took for granted,
And it leaps out as I see it written there.
And as the truth of it begins to become planted,
These two words have now become my heartfelt prayer:
Sincerely yours. Lord, I sign my life to You, sincerely yours.
With a strong and honest wish
To be the best that I can be at what I am,
Without a thought for me.
Lord, teach me how to be Sincerely Yours . . .
1979, Paragon Music/ASCAP

Recently I discovered the Greek reference is most likely not true. Instead, sincere stems from the Latin sincerus, meaning "clean" or "pure,"and cere originates from an Indo-European root ker- "to grow. " The combination creates "pure or honest growth." (TakeOurWord) Ever the romantic, I was disappointed to learn the story about the marble columns is not accurate, but that doesn't deter my interest in sincerity, and it doesn't deter my desire to stand before my Lord pure and clean.

Of course, I can not do that under my own power; I am totally dependent on the shed blood of Christ to cleanse me of sin. Do I still sin? Yes, unfortunately I do, but God looks upon the inner person and sees a heart bent to obedience, a heart sincerely seeking Him. Sin has not mastered me, and that pleases God. For His grace and mercy, I am sincerely grateful.

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