I just reconnected with a long time friend recently who shared some thoughts, reminding me of me being me (thank you). I had to chuckle and smile as I read her message because of what she knows about me. Not sure if that makes any sense to you but it does to me. I’m kind of an inward-looking introvert myself, very content with my own company. Yes that would be me. I had to laugh as she described her knowledge of me, calling me by name pretty much. It is a beautiful gift to give another when someone can call you by name, knowing who you are. They give witness to things that you may or may not realize about yourself…they know your story (or at least parts of it). It is like crossing paths with someone for a long time, being a companion along this journey of life with you. Regardless the circumstance, you feel good because someone knows you.
Anyway, she points out that I must be okay with the ‘stay at home’ way of living which our current situation calls us to do, I am nodding my head. Yes, I really am a ‘keep to yourself kind of person’, not a knocking on someone’s door to “ask for cup of sugar’ or ‘dropping in for a cup of tea’ person. Don’t get me wrong. I am friendly, fairly happy, quite content, but more of a solitary hermity woman (is that such a word) in a manner of speaking. Being given permission to stay at home and do my own thing as she articulates to me…yep I’m good to go. But I do have to say when I feel like leaving my cocoon and sacred space, I want to be able to do so, especially when it comes to my family. Now that is my bailiwick in life…living for my family.
Many years ago I was taking a summer course and I had a seminar leader (also one of the instructors) who demonstrated something extraordinary in my mind. That summer there were an unprecedented amount of participants taking Part 1, 2 or 3 Religion, 400 participants in all. My seminar leader, Noel, who I did not know at the time, met me on the first day in one of the initial ice breakers. Can you imagine the movement in the gymnasium of 400 bodies meeting and greeting? Anyway we had to introduce ourselves, talk a little bit about our own story, and then move on to a new person when the music began again. I did not know he would be my seminar leader until two weeks later. Noel must have met, I don’t know, hundreds of people literally, but two days later, he said hello to me, greeting me with my name, as we sat near each other in morning prayer. How in the world do you remember a person’s name after a hot minute. That has stuck with me. Forever.
Calling someone by their name, acknowledging them, is such a personal and intimate thing I believe. For me, I feel a sense of value, being notable. Of course I have to laugh being a teacher, you hear a lot of Miss, Sir, Teach…the generic go-to name calling. And hey, what happens, I turn around when I hear “Hey Miss”. Or in my case, I was also called mom or even grandma. The funny thing is the students are looking right at you, and call you ‘mom’. It is a compliment in a way, don’t you think? A familiar name, known to them, calling you by name.
Maybe it is the whole idea of feeling loved, special even. I think of that Scripture quote from Isaiah 43:1, when God says “I am calling you by name”. There is such depth to it of being something more; someone knows you. Although there are a few times in my life that I wish I had another name or no name as I do not want to be known. Just saying.
My granddaughter, a precious bundle of joy, is starting to articulate in her own 10 month old language naming familiar people in her life. She sees pictures of her family on fridge or shelves in my home and she says, loudly I might add for a little body, “dadadadada or beh or deh or geeee” – and points her finger at the faces. Of course, I point and say the names again and again and again…you kind of get the picture. And there is my daughter in the background just waiting for the day that her baby girls says mama. My granddaughter does not form the mmmm sound yet. Interesting. But the extraordinary thing is she gives witness in her own way to call them by name. I can tell its important to her just by how her face lights up, points, and makes gibbery delightful sounds – calling their name. It will come soon enough baby girl.
One thing I have to say and maybe it is a social convention of sorts but I think we have to accept that we may forget a name. Instead of going through the nodding or pretending you remember the person’s name you ran into, just say you have gapped. Memory freeze. Brain melt down. Old age. Whatever. Get it over with right away and say who you are and what is their name. Why not? Come up with something witty or humbling to make the situation more comfortable so you can chat without trying to listen for a clue, an aha moment, to discover the name of the person in front of you. Think of all those times when you have caught yourself saying, “it is on the tip of my tongue.” No it’s not. Just ask them their name for goodness sake.
However I do have to confess, I have three daughters and I find myself going through each of their names before I get to the right one…their own. And they are in right in front of me!! I’m even dropping in my grandchildren’s names now and then. Are you kidding me? Nope. Usually, I just take a deep breath and say “one of you.” Now my girls are doing the same thing. Funny…what goes around, comes around. It’s all good.
What’s in a name. Yours. Mine. Each one of us. Special in own way, unique to you, no matter how many others have it. My oldest daughter just had her first child recently and the process they went through to get to naming her. When I heard it, I smiled oh so widely. Beautifully thought out and had meaning for both of them. Surprisingly it suits her.
Now, my name, I have heard has gone viral as a meme. It seems there are certain names that are being bandied about like Karen as a “growing line of internet memes poking fun at real-life archetypes”. In other words, when my name is called, it seems that “Karen” has become social media shorthand meaning a middle-aged white woman — potentially with an asymmetric haircut a la 2009 Kate Gosselin — who makes a big fuss, and is not-so-blissfully ignorant.” FYI: so not me. So if you see me around, I am not THAT Karen. Oh to be called by your name.
From me to you, as James Taylor sings, “you just call out my name, and you know wherever I am, I’ll come running…”
Blessings this day.
Let us pray for all those in need today.