Greetings! Dia Duit! (pronounced, gee-ah ditch; literally means, "God be with you) Guten Tag! Zivjo!(pronounced, zhivyo) Sholem Aleikhem! (Literally means, "May peace be unto you.") Namaste! (Roughly translates to: I honor the place in you where we are both one.) Bonjour! Hola! Ni Hao! Aloha!

As you have probably guessed by now, this post is about greetings...the way we greet each other, what we say, how we say it, and why it is important. (The greetings above are - English, Gaelic, German, Slovenian, Yiddish, Hindu, French, Spanish, Chinese and Hawaiian.)

In many places around the world, people greet each other, formally or informally, by blessing them with wishes of peace or God's presence in their life or recognition of their "oneness." In other countries, it is a simple wish for a good morning/evening. Many times, the greetings are accompanied by a wave, handshake or bow.

When I was in Europe, several years ago, I loved the fact that when you entered a shop, you called out a greeting to the shopkeeper. Imagine the shock that shop proprietors would have in the U.S. if you walked in and called out, "Good Morning!" This is virtually impossible to do in our mega-stores...who would hear you?

In a recent post by my friend, Maithri, he shares his own thoughts on greetings. (I encourage you to visit his site and read his beautiful words.) In fact, his post inspired my own, along with a statement my pastor made recently, about people actually greeting each other in stores and on street.

My pastor shared that she noticed that recently, people where being more friendly, saying, "Hello" or "Good morning" as they passed by her. She pondered on whether this was a unique phenomenon caused by the economic times or because it was the holiday season. Regardless, she found it to be quite pleasant and heartwarming.

I, for one, am a person who enjoys greeting people when I meet them. If I walk down the street, I say hello to those who pass by me. Sometimes, people will simply lower their heads and scoot by, but most often, they smile and return the greetings, occasionally adding, "How are you?" or "Beautiful day, isn't it?"

A trait, or perhaps a gift, I received from my mother is that no matter where I go, people will come up to me, say, "Hello," and begin talking. I used to think I had an invisible sign over my head that said, "Talk to me." Having grown up with this "gift," I have met many wonderful people who, for a few minutes, have blessed my life. Perhaps this is why I love the Hindu greeting of "Namaste" so much. It is a conscious recognition of the sacredness of the other person. How beautiful is that!?

One of the Old Testament stories taught me many years ago was the story of Abraham entertaining three strangers. One of them, it turns out is the Lord. Abraham realizes this and bows before them. In the New Testament, the writer of Hebrews says, "Let the love of the brethren continue. Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." (13:1-2)

Credit: painting by Edward Clifford

For whatever reason, this has stuck in my mind..."entertaining angels unawares." Perhaps, this is why I love to greet fellow travelers on the Road of Life. One thing is for sure, I know it happens from time to time. Let me share a true story...

My beloved, Roger, had just had an operation and was in great pain. We were on our way into see the surgeon who had operated on him. As we entered the hospital, a woman approached us saying, "God bless need a wheel chair." I agreed but told her I did not want to leave Roger as he was very unsteady. She said she would stay with him while I got the wheelchair. When I returned, she helped me get Roger into the chair. As I was adjusting the footrest, she leaned over, kissed him on the cheek and said, "Don't worry, everything will be all right." I stood up, looking at the glow on Roger's face and realized that the woman was gone. We were in a huge open area, but she was no where to be found.

As it happened, this operation failed, bringing Roger near death. However, we were blessed to find another surgeon whose name literally means "prince" in Swahili. This blessed man, a healer of the most extraordinary kind, told me he prayed before each operation. He saved Roger's life. The woman...the stranger who greeted us at the hospital a year previous...was an angel to us! Her blessing and prediction that everything would be "all right," was correct.

I wonder sometimes, what might have happened had we not listened to this greeting, if we had walked passed this little woman with a bright green jacket (green is the color of healing!) and just limped our way to the office. I am grateful that we stopped. I know her touch brought a peace to Roger that was palpable.

In closing, I would like to share one of my favorite greetings, Aloha.

I am old enough to remember when Hawaii became a state. It was an exciting time for many people. I remember finding books in the library that spoke of the beautiful Hawaiian Islands, their people, their customs and their language.

Aloha was a word that is used to describe the state - Hawaii, the Aloha State. The word is difficult to translate in English. It is used for hello and good bye, for I love you and for a show of Compassion, Peace, Kindness as well as a host of other things. It all depends on how it is said and by whom. In researching the meaning, I learned that some believe that if you break down the components of the word, "alo" means face, facade or presence and "ha" means breath, as in breath of life. Therefore, one could say that aloha means, "the presence of the breath of life." Wow! Even if this is simply a folk myth, it is a beautiful one for sure!

As the end of the year approaches with all the special days in which we pause to remember how blessed life is, let us not forget to greet each other with gentle words - blessings of Love and Hope - each in their own way, recognizing the beauty of each other's spirit, our interconnectedness and our united dream for a world filled with Peace.

Namaste! Aloha!

Photo Credit: (All) Microsoft Clip Art


Maithri said…
Namaste to you my friend,

Another beautiful post,

Much love, M
Sharon P said…
What a lovely post. I came across it when looking for friendly greetings to put in Valentines (I like to give Valentines to adults, a reminder that the holiday isn't only about romance, but also friendship). Your description of Aloha reminds me of a greeting that my Navajo friend uses -- hozho -- that is also rich with meaning and hard to translate into English.
Linda said…
Hi, Sharon!
Thanks for your comments. I also make Valentines for friends. Great idea to us multicultural greetings.


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