Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Smart Fish

A friend of mine, arguing in favor of the vegetarian life style said (I think jokingly), “and fish, fish are very intelligent creatures you know.” To which I said, “They ought to be, they live in schools.”

I may have won that round but I was surprised to learn recently that originally school meant leisure. In ancient Greek the word for leisure was skhole. Essentially, it meant a break from work like olive oil making so that the finer things in life could be pursued, like philosophy and poetry.

So school for the ancient Greeks (by the way for the Romans too) meant leisure, a break from work. In fact, even in Old English it meant the same thing, leisure. All this seems odd as plenty of children eagerly await freedom from the leisurely pursuit of knowledge.  Eventually in English, school became the word for places of learning.

A school of fish refers to the shoal that where groups of fish like to spend much of their time, presumably to make it easier for us to catch them.

School meant leisure time. It makes sense; many people include for their holiday activity scholastic activities like reading and concerts (poetry). I prefer to refer to this time as holidays rather than vacation. Vacation is an odd word, referring originally to vacant buildings, as people (lawyers and students) were working in harvest. Holiday is a compound word, holy + days.

Our leisure time is precious and holy. Be open to the Holy Spirit in your rest and play. We should be open to the Spirit in our employment too, but that discussion is for another day. For now, the richness of our holidays is increased when we understand the possibilities more fully. Holidays are times of edification and learning, as well as, but not limited to fun and play.

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