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By Meghan Peterson
(September 19, 2022) — Yonder – farther removed; more distant; being at a distance within view or at a place or in a direction known or indicated – Merriam-Webster.com
“…secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…” – Preamble, U.S. Constitution
For an inexplicable, random reason, I recently used the word “yonder” in conversation with my Older Boy (he is 4 years old).
“Mommy, what does yonder mean?” Of course, I better explain myself to Older Boy for using such a unique word. “Well, honey, when we say ‘yonder’ we mean to express distance, or that something is down the road, coming down the line – whether in terms of a location or an event or something else to look forward to.”
“Oh, ok!” Older Boy exclaims as he bounds off to the next activity for 20.3 seconds.
He may have been satisfied with the answer (for now), but I got to thinking about the term and concept of “yonder.”
Despite signifying something that is far away, it is “yonder” precisely because you can still see it. Its visibility wins over the challenges of distance. It is something for which to strive and reach. That which is yonder – a goal, an objective, a dream, a destination, is something we know is at a distance and nonetheless attainable. In short, we discern a level of long-term efforts at the core meaning in “yonder.” Put another way, yonder connotes hard work over a potentially unspecified duration of time. In effect, when one has in mind something “over yonder,” it is identified, known, specific. Simultaneously, timing of arriving at or achieving that something yonder is less certain, less known, less specific. This feature of uncertainty, however, may not reduce the appeal of that which is yonder. In fact, because the prize, the reward, the outcome – whatever that may be – is in sight, it can make the endeavor more rewarding.
I wonder if the Framers of the Constitution held a “yonder” perspective when they wrote this country’s foundational document. At the very least, they had in mind working for and preserving – indeed, securing – specific goals (for example, “blessings of liberty”) that future generations could enjoy.
As we head into autumn, may we have the eyes for what we want to achieve over yonder, the mind for how to get there, and a spirited will to get it done.