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Borrowed Words – Barbara Kingsolver

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I’m a lover of words. In written form mostly. I have an app on my computer that sends me an update each week as to how many words I’ve written as well as how many mistakes I’ve made. We won’t discuss the mistakes but in one recent week I wrote over 100,000 words. That’s crazy to me.

As an introvert, I can’t handle too many of the spoken kinds of words. I must take that kind in small doses and spread out over time and preferably spoken quietly. Our kids all love words and have become quite clever in their use of them. This love for words started early in our son’s life. He was famous for picking up on a word and using it over and over again. Not even really using it but saying it. Over and over again. When our oldest daughter was in the 8th grade she had back surgery for scoliosis and during our time in the hospital, our son (6th grade) got utterly hung up on, addicted, flat out obsessed with the word “Abercrombie”. Not to be confused with the clothing store (I don’t even think we had one of those in our town yet), it was the name of an adjacent building to the hospital we were in. A building that we had to pass through to another hospital that had a McDonald’s, thus one that we passed through frequently. He would repeat “Abercrombie. Abercrombie” over and over again. You have to admit it is a fun word and sort of rolls off.


Back on the path… I’m a lover of words… and how they turn into stories. I bought the book, Homeland, by Barbara Kingsolver a few years ago because it’s a book with short stories and I typically only have the mental capacity to read in snippets. I picked it up recently for some writing inspiration. I love how Kingsolver put words together to create images and emotions that tell a vivid story. I love being moved by words. I constantly strive to be a better writer. A better storyteller. I love the thought that my words will one day move or inspire someone. Even if only me.

These borrowed words are from Chapter 1:


“The ones who could not travel, the aged and the infirm and the very young, were hidden in deep cane thickets where they would remain undiscovered until they were bones. When the people’s hearts could not bear any more, they laid their deerskin packs on the ground and settled again.

They built clay houses with thin bent poles for spines, and in autumn they went down to the streams where the sycamore trees had let their year’s work fall, the water steeped brown as leaf tea, and the people cleansed themselves of the sins of the scattered-bone time. They called their refugee years The Time When We Were Not, and they were forgiven, because they had carried the truth of themselves in a sheltered place inside the flesh, exactly the way a fruit that had gone soft still carries inside itself the clean, hard stone of its future.”

When I read this, I could visualize pieces of my own life. Maybe it resonates with your life too.

*Hidden in deep cane thickets where they would remain undiscovered until they were bones

*When their hearts could bear no more, they laid down their packs and settled again

*The refugee years, The Time When We Were Not

*They cleansed themselves of the scattered-bone time

*They carried the truth of themselves like a fruit that had gone soft still carries her fruit

In life we often feel invisible and left for dead, exhausted and tired of running, mourning the loss of the years we’ll never get back, in need of cleansing and forgiveness, battered but not shattered.

Maybe it’s time for a trip to the streams.

Longing for our homeland, we will carry on… and maybe we’ll be fortunate enough to pass through the building with an amazing name like Abercrombie, that will give us some joy and hope as we travel.

And now all I can think of is McDonalds.

Be filled,


About Andrea

Writer+Proofreader+Traveler+Foodie+Dreamer. Let's walk and work together.

4 responses »

  1. I love words, too. Especially the words you write!



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