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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Simple Gift of Saying "Good Morning."

On our early morning prayerwalks, it's become our custom to offer folks we pass by or who pass by us, a gentle, friendly "Good Morning." We're careful not to push our way into someone's sleepy plodding toward the gym or practice; or interrupt those ear-plugged and wanting no interaction by their fixed gaze forward. Boundaries are boundaries.

But I've always felt a warm "Good Morning" is a simple gesture of wishing blessing on people, including strangers. Most of us get plenty of non-blessing from people around us during the week. So to offer God's unmerited favor, kindness and goodness toward people is an act of love, however simply expressed. It's a small gift worthy of saying because of it's deeper meaning.

I did a little digging into the origin and meaning of the good morning phrase: The following is from folks who contributed to a variety of wiki's and forums on the etymology of words.

Good morning:

"... started as 'morn', meaning the time just before sunrise, in Old English. By the 13 century, it had become 'morning'. 'Good' started as Old English. 'god' (with a long "o") "having the right or desirable quality"

'Good Morning' as we use it started as a greeting, 'have a good morning' The use of the shortened version 'Good morning ' dates from around 1400, as 'gode morwene'.

There is agreement among etymologists that Goodbye, Good morning, Good afternoon, etc.  all derive from the word 'God'; (Goodbye specifically from 'God be with you'.) and times of the day inserted accordingly;
All these greeting and parting expressions are found in earliest literature; recorded as early as 1200 in Layamon's 'Chronicle of Britain)

Through similar routes The Oxford English Dictionary indicates that "Good morning" and "Good night" derive from "[May] God give you [a] good night." and "[May] God give you [a] good day."

I love the notion of "Good Morning" as as "May God give you a good day." I imagine all of us, whether we believe in God or not, wouldn't refuse having a good day in favor of having a bad or awful day. We bless people with a gift of grace and goodness when we say "Good Morning."

Something I've noticed more than once over the last few months when I or Tricia wish a person we don't know such a blessing, is they look at us as if surprised, smile and offer "Good Morning" back. For most, they didn't expect it which suggests they don't get many, and I bet most of us don't say it very much to strangers. I know sharing this greeting means looking at someone, being a bit vulnerable, and offering the gift with no expectation of return. Not easy at first. We're all fairly well indoctrinated in not getting into "someone's space."

And occasionally we do misread someone, make the offer, and they resolutely refuse to look at us as they pass by. I don't know why -- they just ignore it. In one of my very early blogposts 3 or 4 years ago, I wrote of saying, "Good Morning" to a woman sitting on a porch and she immediately shot back in anger: "YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO SAY THAT TO ME!!!" You can bet I was very gun-shy of offering the greeting to people I didn't know for a long time. She's the exception; most give the gift back with eye contact and a quick smile.

But, I see it as another way of offering God's love and grace to people. We are here to connect folks with his heart through Jesus, and his Kingdom ways. The simple gift of saying, "Good Morning" is a small step in the right Kingdom direction as the day begins, but a really benevolent one.

So here's a challenge: if you're not in the habit of doing so, try it for a month with people you walk by in the morning while out walking the dog, going for a run, biking, or just stopping for coffee. See if what I 've experienced will be true for you too. It feels good ,and many folks receive it as it was intended.

Let me know how it turns out.
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