When we were kids, my brother and I had one of those extra-large, super-bouncy bouncy balls. It was about the size of a tennis ball and when we threw it against the driveway, it bounced nearly as high as our house. One summer day, we had the bright idea to use it in place of a baseball, so we ran to the diamonds a couple blocks away, imagining ourselves hitting effortless homeruns over the back fence.
My brother stood at home plate. I pitched. He swung. The ball launched swiftly off the end of his aluminum bat like a torpedo. I didn’t have time to react and dropped to my knees on the pitcher’s mound after the heat-seeking line drive hit me squarely in the stomach. I’d never had the wind knocked out of me before so I panicked, and while my lungs screamed for air, my eyes spilled over with tears. I was sure I was dying, the sheer impact mangling my insides beyond repair.
Obviously, I survived.
Years later, I learned the Greek term, splagchnizomai, the definition of which accurately described the sensation I’d endured on the ball diamond that day. In English, the word translates as moved with compassion. But in Greek, it incites a much more powerful visual. In Greek, splagchnizomai refers to an emotion that is so overwhelming, so moving, you feel it all the way down deep in your guts. Gut-wrenching is another close translation.
I heard the word again late last week when listening to a podcast and while my mind conjured the image of that ball slamming into my gut, my heart reminded me that splagchnizomai is not necessarily the result of a physical action, but an invisible force prodding us into action.
You know the strong stirring in your core that doesn’t let you rest until you DO something about it? That’s splagchnizomai. The persistent nudge telling you to help your neighbor or volunteer at the local soup kitchen or turn off the noise and reconnect with your family? That’s splagchnizomai. It’s there for a purpose, for good, but it requires our attention to acknowledge it and our participation to put it into motion.
What can you do this week to turn your own internal splagchnizomai into actual movement?