as·pi·ra·tion (as-puh-rey-shun), noun.
1. strong desire, longing, or aim; ambition: intellectual aspirations.
2. a goal or objective desired: The presidency is the traditional aspiration of young American boys.
3. act of aspirating; breath.
a. articulation accompanied by an audible puff of breath, as in the h-sound of how, or of when (hwen), or in the release of initial stops, as in the k-sound of key.
b. the use of an aspirate in pronunciation.
a. the act of removing a fluid, as pus or serum, from a cavity of the body, by a hollow needle or trocar connected with a suction syringe.
b. the act of inhaling fluid or a foreign body into the bronchi and lungs, often after vomiting.
6. when marko attends church, as in this morning, and finds that — even though he loves his church and the people there — he experiences no connection (with people or with god); and, as a result, finds himself ‘practicing’ the practice of worship and engagement, without the experience thereof, with the intent that the experience and knowledge and belief will, at another time to come, seem once again real and authentic. in this sense, every action and many ‘beliefs’ practiced by marko this morning were done so with aspiration.
Eb·en·e·zer (eb-uh-nee-zer), noun.
1. a male given name: from a Hebrew word meaning “stone of help.”
2. male proper name, sometimes also the name of a Protestant chapel or meeting house, from name of a stone raised by Samuel to commemorate a victory over the Philistines at Mizpeh (I Sam. vii.12), from Heb. ebhen ezar “stone of help,” from ebhen “stone” + ezer “help.”
3. what marko draws on during mornings like this one, where attendance and participation at church feel hollow and fake (not that anyone else there was being hollow and fake — marko was the one who felt hollow and fake). in the midst of choosing to sing some of the songs about god and jesus and stuff, marko remembers that only last week he was in argentina, explaining to a room full of latin youth workers, the value of viewing spiritually intense moments (which are inevitable in youth ministry), when not manipulated, as ebenezers: spiritual markers of “god met me/us here” in the journey of adolescence. this memory, which came during a particularly hollow and fake moment of participating in singing a chris tomlin song — so much so that marko just stopped singing and stood there — caused marko to reflect back on the ebenezers in his recent journey, the recent “god met me here” moments. interesting that the sermon was on the old testament joseph, a dude who certainly would have had his share of “god met me here” moments interspersed with long periods of some opposite experience (what we might call the “inverse-nezer”).