God said, “No longer shall your name be Abram, but Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations…As for Sarai your wife…Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and give you a son by her. She shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her” (Genesis 17.5, 15a, c, 16; my paraphrase)
A man wrestled with Jacob until daybreak. Unable to prevail, he struck Jacob, putting his hip out of joint; then saying, “Let me go, for the dawns comes.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me”…The man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed” (Genesis 32.24-26, 28; my paraphrase)
I’m a logophile. I love words.
My grandmother, Audia Mae Hoard Roberts, my earliest tutor, oft testified to what she considered “the efficiency of the English language,” given its large and constantly-growing vocabulary. Frequently she advised, “The more words you know, the more complex and nuanced can be your comprehension and your communication of your ideas.”
I took her counsel to heart. I love words.
And I love the act, the art of painting portraits of thought and feeling of my perceptions of the reality around and within me.
And I love to share these my depictions with others.
And I love to receive from others their views of life in this world; even and especially when they differ from mine. For this always challenges me to rethink what I think I already know.
Still, over time, treasuring the importance of relationships, particularly the aspects of mutual acknowledgement and acceptance one of another, I have learned that the most important words I know are names.
We have names by which we are known. Names chosen, some with the especial significance of historical familial lineage. Others for the power of their meaning due to their attachment to a particular time, place, or event or the pleasant sound when spoken or falling upon the ear. Still others, as expressions of syllabic and rhythmic creativity.
We have names, which, when shared, become gateways to others and ourselves. To speak a name arrests the attention of the one called, thus, opening an opportunity for greater communication, deeper connection.
And because of our names, we are not unknown. Even at death, we never are lost, drown in the ever-rising tide of history and humanity. For when a loved one calls out our name, we remain in the realm of the living.