A question posed by a friend this stormy morning:
Why is lightning spelled differently than enlightening?
Why does one get an extra “e?”
Who made up these rules?
You went back and checked, didn’t you?
My perspective on this linguistic dilemma:
To lighten or enlighten is a gradually illuminating experience -the “e” is the energy under control within the process that is being driven by something separate from the light itself, it seems to me. And it gradually reaches a sustained level that overcomes darkness. Lightning is a sudden explosive act that releases energy that creates a brief light and lots of attendant noise but leaves no lasting energy to show the way. The “e” is evidence of the sustaining of light! That’s my view of it! “e” is scientific notation for energy, hence my focus on its presence, duration, and sustainability. And whether it is process or event driven…….. kind of like the difference between justification-an event that occurs in a moment – and sanctification which is an unfolding process- that continues and multiplies and sustains the “Light”. One sees the strike of lightning ( or is hit by it!) and may see things in the moment. In the other the light is embraced within and one becomes a conductor of that light through oneself to the world.
It was a rhetorical question and my personal understanding really adds nothing to the conversation! . But think about the Apostle Paul- he experienced a lightning hit that overwhelmed him on the Damascus Road that changed his understanding of who Christ was in a split second, but it took time and the discipleship of Ananias to lose the scales that were on his eyes and allow him to embrace and welcome the Light and impart that Light to others.
I think such lovely distinctions and understandings that examination of words can offer are actually inspired by God and lead us word people to grasp other concepts more clearly and be able to explain them to others with greater confidence. Language is really the only means available to us to express the mirrored nature of the spiritual and physical realm until we get to see and experience it on the other side of this dimly lit side of the glass we call “life” in the physical realm.