Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Word Wonder -- companion

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

1. one who accompanies another or others; a comrade; associate. [from the Middle English compainoun, which comes from the Old French compagnon, which comes from the Latin companio. The Latin word is thought to come from a Germanic word akin to the Goth (a German warring tribe) gahlaiba, companion or fellow soldier, which, in turn, comes from the Old High German galeipo, companion. Made from com, meaning "together" and panis, meaning "bread"] -- Funk & Wagnall's Canadian College Dictionary and Webster's Dictionary of Word Origins

Picture a group of people standing and seated in a circle. Vessels of wine and water, flour and cheese are in evidence. Laughter enlivens the scene with friendly conversation and teasing.

These companions could be sitting around a fire, their weapons at the ready and helmets scattered on the ground. Or they could be standing around a modern table, as ready with cutting board and knives as their predecessors were with sticks upon which to roast their meat and bread.

Mark, Lucas, Ashlee, Annie, Anthony

My companions this past weekend  welcomed me into their circle to enjoy gnocchi and chicken cutlets prepared by Anthony and Annie. My son and I, along with hosts Ashlee and Mark, learned how to knead the dough and then shape it by rolling it off a fork. We laughed a lot at each other's lumpy results (though Ashlee takes the prize for the best-ridged ones).

What prompted me to write this post was the companionable, relaxed feeling throughout all of Friday evening. Annie and Anthony took their time kneading and rolling the dough, trimming and coating the cutlets. No one was in a hurry, no one had to be somewhere else. Everyone's serene pace seeped into my weary bones and reached the core of me with nearly-forgotten softness and peace.

This group of friends demonstrated the exact meaning of the word "companion" -- that of breaking bread together. Though they haven't known each other for long, it looks like they're discovering fine friends in one another. They laugh and work and play together, in various combinations. On Friday, their mutual respect was evident in the kindness and appreciation shown in all sorts of ways.

Some of my warm appreciation probably comes from the stressed condition in which I arrived. But most of it comes from seeing and experiencing companionship in action Friday night and all weekend. It was wonderful to recharge my batteries in such good company, and I'm grateful.

To fully appreciate the depth of meaning in the word "companion," look at the list of modern words that are related through their ancient root, - (which means " to protect, feed"):
fodder, forage, fur, pabulum, food, feed, foster, pasture, antipasto, repast, pastor, pantry, companion, and company.
If you're reading this in a state of overload or even desperation, I encourage you to make time to recharge. Whether in solitude or with caring companions, whether breaking bread or not, please allow yourself the balm of deep relaxation. Be a companion to yourself and others.

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