I found the above “picture” on Tumblr the other day and was intrigued for obvious reasons by this word I’d never heard of. I think it being a stark white picture of the definition intrigued me even more than if I’d read it in a book and then looked it up in the dictionary (or–let’s be real–if I Googled it). Metanoia can have theological, rhetorical, and/or psychological connotations. They all pretty much mean the same thing: “an act of correction.” The main thing I love about the definition pictured above is that my subconscious choice of words, “an act,” is translated as, “the journey.” And that’s precisely what it is: a long and winding journey to change one’s outlook on life, which is where striving to be joyful comes back into play. I think the Wikipedia explanation of metanoia that I favour the most (said the former English major who got in trouble multiple times for quoting Wikipedia explanations in writing assignments) is this one, from the one detailing the theological connotation:
[S]ome people argue that the word should be interpreted more literally to denote changing one’s mind, in the sense of embracing thoughts beyond its present limitations or thought patterns (an interpretation which is compatible with the denotative meaning of repentance but replaces its negative connotation with a positive one, focusing on the superior state being approached rather than the inferior, prior state being departed from).
Yes! “[F]ocusing on the superior state being approached rather than the inferior, prior state being departing from…” Wikipedia scholars and gentlemen/women also go on to share, “The Greek term for repentance, metanoia, denotes a change of mind, a reorientation, a fundamental transformation of outlook, of an individual’s vision of the world and of her/himself, and a new way of loving others and the Universe.” Again, all of this points to the journey of joyful living, in my opinion. That’s the main reason I’m so thrilled to have run across this word, as it ties in so well with my goal to strive for a joyful life. Speaking of which, here’s a copy of my Christmas card as promised, since everyone who got one mailed to them should have it in hand by now:
As fate would have it, I got to light the candle of Joy on the Advent wreath at church yesterday, right after I officially became a member of the church. It meant a lot to me not only to be received as a member, but to get to light the third candle on the wreath to signify a feeling (Joy) which has been at the forefront of my mind lately. Here’s a picture of the wreath right after the candles were extinguished at the end of the service:
It goes without saying that due to the tragedy in Connecticut on Friday, there will be many families who will have a very tough holiday season. As I wrote after Hurricane Sandy, I don’t pretend to imagine what it’s like to be touched by a sudden act of violence involving the loss of a loved one. While none of us can undo what was done to those children and teachers, we can indeed move forward with a sense of metanoia to keep history from repeating itself yet again. After all, Columbine wasn’t all that long ago; the ages of the students who were killed just keep getting younger.
I challenge everyone, including myself, to give the gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love this holiday season, no matter your religious persuasion or thoughts about the overcommercialization of Christmas (well, it’s true!). These gifts are completely free; they just take a bit of investment in others and ourselves.
‘Til next week, here’s to experiencing metanoia!