As a youth, I was taught the difference between the words, “can,” and “may.”
For some reason, knowing when to use those two words confused me when I was younger – especially at lunch or dinnertime.
I can recall the occasions when I would catch and correct myself at restaurant tables when placing my orders. I’d start to order and ask the waiter or waitress, “can I have…” and I would stop myself and ask, “may I have…” instead.
“May.” What is it about the word?
In my opinion, just the sound of that word carries with it a gentle tone. Some might argue “genteel” versus “gentle,” but I don’t think there’s anything pretentious about the word, “may,” when it’s being used to ask for permission.
Similarly, I think that the noun, “May,” used to describe the fifth month of a year, is anything but stuffy or pretentious when spoken or experienced.
Each year, May seems welcoming, like a young mother reaching to her offspring with outstretched arms. And, May calls out the spring season so kind and sweetly.
Glancing outdoors during May, we see nature’s bright colors come alive again after a winter’s leave, bursting forth like a newborn’s skin, full of the color of life yet simultaneously fragile.
Natural beauty abounds in May, yet May seems achingly beautiful. Why? Because we know that the beauty of May and spring won’t last forever.
Again, May can never be too self-important, because May, like all of us, is limited by a beautiful youthfulness that eventually comes to an end.
So, every year, with resiliency and an unpretentious air, May sings: “Hello, friends. Look at me now in all my youthful glory. Don’t be angry or sad that I can’t stay, but make the most of the beautiful gifts that I reveal.”
May (pun intended) I ask: what gifts are you bringing to the table of life? What beautiful, May-like contributions are you making during your limited time here?