My book group and I have been reading through Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quartet. We just finished A Wind in The Door. I have loved A Wrinkle In Time since I was an adolescent, but A Wind in The Door is quickly becoming a rival for my favorite book by L’Engle.
What really struck me while reading the book was the power of Naming and being Named. Without giving anything away, two of the main characters in the book are Namers. Their job is to give and remember names, not only so things and people can be differentiated, but because
Naming Someone Makes Them More Truly Themselves.
In one chapter of the book, the apprentice Namer has to name someone she does not care for, not in the least. She struggles mightily to name him. But because she has to name him, name his essence, it forces her to finally see his humanity. And once she sees his humanity she realizes she loves him for who he is.
For in order to truly name each other, we have to see each other not as a label or as a caricature, but as we truly are.
Now all this can get a little heady, which is fun for me, but may not be fun for you. So where am I going with all this?
A couple weeks ago my daughter played a piano prelude for a country church where I have been guest preaching. They had been encouraging her to play for them for weeks, but she was scared. Scared she would mess up. Scared she wasn’t good enough. Scared she would be seen as a fraud and die of embarrassment right there on the piano bench. We have all been there, in this place of fear. It is just part of doing a new thing.
But after a month of practicing a prelude with her teacher, my daughter took the plunge on my last Sunday at this sweet church. She sat there with sweaty, trembling hands and played the most beautiful rendition of “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart.”
And after the service, the church pianist came up to her all smiles and said this: “That was wonderful. You are such a talented young pianist. I can’t wait to hear you play more.”
And my daughter lit up. Because she had been Named.
Named Good Enough
Tears came to my eyes as I watched this exchange because I know words are powerful. Names are powerful. And this naming of my daughter would serve to make her into more of who she was born to be.
Recently I have been paying attention to how I am Naming others in my life. Are my words blessing them or cursing them? Am I tearing them down and snuffing them out? Or am I I speaking life and making them more fully themselves?
For that matter how do I receive the names other give me?
How do I Name myself?
I am I going to call myself klutzy, stupid, or failure again today? Or am I going to go with beautiful, grace-filled and daughter of God?
Words have power. Names have power.
The Secret I learned from Madeline L’Engle is that we are all Namers.
We all are called to look past the surface of people and find their essence. Even the folks we don’t like or who are on our last nerve. Even ourselves. Then we are to call out the name of who they are, who they were made to be.
Even as The Word swept over the waters of creation and spoke life into being, we can continue to speak this life into being who it was created to be.
We are Namers, you and I.
How will we Name others and ourselves today?