Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wildcard Wednesday: The Essence of a Name

Sometime during college, a friend of mine shared that in her culture, newborn babies are given their names in a very intentional way. At the moment of her birth, the baby is cleaned and the Father carries her away from the crowd to say her name out loud for the very first time with only the fresh ears of the baby to hear it. That is beautiful, and profound, and mysterious. There is power in a name--given and called, assigned and painfully branded.

Names often shape who we are, positively or negatively. Often, the meaning of the name, and even the person for whom the name represents can leave pause in us. For example, every Haley that I met in my early life had a tendency to be snobby, in my humble elementary aged opinion. If your name is Haley, bear with me a minute. The Haleys of my elementary days were probably no different than others, it was just my feeling about them--or maybe they felt I was cold and returned the favor, who knows. The name Haley has totally changed meaning in my life, as it is now the name of my baby sister. Now, I cannot hear that name without associating it with the love and admiration I have for the baby of our family. Names have a way of shaping our prejudices, and of assigning us meaning.

Sarah is a common name and generally associated with the wife of Abraham who bore a child at a very old age. In the Hebrew it means "a woman of high rank" or "princess." HAHA. (this is not helping my point, but I'll get to it). Also, Sarah is an old sanskrit word that means "essence." Essence, I associate that with raw, open, real, authentic... one can only hope to be so honest.

Probably the most profound piece of my name is that I am named after my Great Grandmother, Sarah Byra Gray. I never knew her, she died from an illness shortly after giving birth to my Papaw (you need to know that my Papaw's version of "Sarah" is "Say-rah," a pronunciation that is music to my ears).

Thanks to my Aunt, I have a copy of a journal from my Great Grandmother when she was 17 years old. From what I can gather in reading her words she was... educated, a romantic, a supporter of women's liberation, a devout Christian, a wordsmith and poet, a lover of fashion, interested in music, a writer, and someone who enjoyed wrestling with a challenge. From the moment I first began to read her journal, I felt a strong kinship to her... to hoping I was like her. Let me share a snippet from her words...

Love is just a very short word
But to me its more’n sea deep
And the waves that sweep the ocean—
Are like the deepest love I keep.

Sweet words from long before my time, but they speak to me. I hope they speak to you.
What's in your name?

Today I am thankful for: the understanding of a dear friend.

1 comment:

  1. I'm named after my great grandmother, too! And I've definitely been called Say-ruh a time or two since I moved to the deep south. :)