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Thursday, 25 June 2020 07:00

The Wonder of Words #1 - Gokotta


Recently, I read a book called What a Wonderful Word (written by Nicola Edwards and Luisa Uribe). Basically, it brought together a collection of words from other languages which cannot be easily translated into English. Several of them struck me, for both comedic relief and for deeper reflection. For instance, in Finland there are apparently a whole host of words related to reindeer. One that caught my eye is poronkusema – defined as the distance a reindeer can walk before needing the toilet. Needless to say, it is unlikely that word will ever need to enter our own vocabulary unless we move to Finland or happen to run into Rudolph and his mates on Christmas Eve (in which case that would be more likely to be flying than walking anyway).

Some of the other words in this book though have deeply evoked something inside of me. Gokotta is a Swedish word that mean to wake up early in the morning so you can go outside and hear the first birds singing. I love the imagery of this. Often when we are praying in our chapel in the morning, I hear these first morning songs of the birds – and while I am perhaps not participating in the full gokotta experience by virtue of the fact that I am indoors rather than outside, it still resonates as a meaningful experience.

So what is it about the song of the birds for me? It firstly strikes me that they begin to sing before the sun has risen – in fact, now it is winter, it is pitch black as prayer begins at 6am. They are like a reminder for us all that the sunrise is coming, that a new day is dawning, They sing then of the faithfulness of God who brings us new life each and every day. Their gentle song also draws me into stillness, it somehow manages to quiet the thoughts racing around in my mind as the day begins, calling me to focus on God rather than being distracted by planning my day down to the minutest detail. And when their song seems not so gentle, instead being loud and piercing, they remind me and call me to praise God in every circumstance.

So next time you are awake early, take a moment to have a gokotta start to your morning – and ask God to speak to you through it as well

Mel Edwards