Every now and then a word suddenly catches your ear, and suddenly you notice it several times in one day. You’re tempted to say, “There it is again!”
Recently, such was the case with the word “consider.” It’s just an ordinary, every-day word. Or is it? Why did it suddenly strike me so?
With my knowledge of Latin, it occurred to me that the word “consider” might have something to do with the stars, because the Latin word sidera means “stars” or “heavenly bodies.” How interesting! I’ve used the word for years and yet that thought had never crossed my mind before. As often happens, I forgot about it and didn’t investigate further.
But then in this morning’s reading from the Office, there it was again, in St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans: You must consider yourselves dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus (Rom 6:11).
Okay, Lord, I got the message. You want me to consider the word “consider.” There’s something mystical and spiritual about it, isn’t there?
After prayer, I spent some time checking out my hypothesis. Sure enough, the word “consider” comes from the Latin words cum (with) and sidera (stars), yielding a meaning of “with the stars.”
Then I consulted a few dictionaries and collected the following definitions: to think about carefully, to think of especially with regard to taking some action, to take into account, to regard or treat in an attentive or kindly way, to gaze on steadily or reflectively, to come to regard.
The literal translation “with the stars” brings the word so much more alive, doesn’t it? If I were to create one, I would include this notion in my definition: to reflect on as if pondering the stars, to gaze as if with wonder and awe, to think carefully and reflectively as when one looks up and out at the night sky.
Yes, to look up and out, billions of miles out into the vastness of space, filled with innumerable stars.
To consider is to root our thoughts in the perspective of the stars. Doing so fills us with wonder and awe, reminds of the extravagance of God’s love, humbles us by the sheer vastness of all that God has done. To consider is to see by the light of God’s glory and His expansive love. To consider is to think in a way that sees the present moment as caught up in something far more than the here and now; it is to experience this moment, this place and time, as part of something far greater than we can imagine.
Thus, in Romans 6:11 St. Paul is inviting us to grasp that God’s mercy and love are bigger than any sin we may have committed. We are being summoned to look beyond the present moment and behold with wonder and awe the perfection that God has already accomplished for us.
As we behold and understand that reality, we start to live out of it now. As we cast our thoughts out among the stars, as we consider, we look outward and upward from the present reality to the glory awaiting us in Heaven. Making this consideration helps that reality begin to break into the present moment and become ever more real to us and for us.
As it breaks in, sins begin to be put to death and virtues come alive. Our life begins to change as we see beyond the present moment, where there may be weakness and pain, to the victory that is ours and is so much bigger than this mere moment. Thus we become alive to God in Christ Jesus.
All of this from one little word: consider. To reflect as if pondering the stars, to gaze as if with wonder and awe, to think carefully and reflectively as when one looks up and out at the night sky.
Yes, words are wonderful and many of them are mystical. Think about it; the stars encourage you to look up and out, to gaze beyond with wonder and awe, to consider.
It’s not a bad thing to do when seeking perspective or pondering paths, when searching for answers or meaning, when searching for God.
Give it some consideration.