Choosing a Name (Part 2)
In the most recent Harris Creek blog, Brady shared about the process he and Becca went through in picking Camden Beck Herbert’s name. For those who read it, I think you would agree when I say 1) Brady is a gifted writer and 2) the post will be a blessing to many, Camden included. For those of you who have yet to read it, take a moment to enjoy: http://harriscreek.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/choosing-a-name/
As the Herbert family welcomed Camden into their household on August 3rd, the Hughes family also recently greeted a new addition. On August 5th, a 3-lb. ball of white fur crossed the threshold into our home and immediately marked the territory as his. Some might identify him as a West Highland Terrier, others might mistake him for a polar bear, but Allison and I have chosen to call him “Truett.”
Settling on Truett was not an easy decision for Allison and I to come to. In fact, we had a whole slew of names in consideration. But as we reflected on the meaning of Truett, the name really started to grow on us. First, we like the name aesthetically. Beginning and ending with the letter “t” and including the rare combination of vowels “ue,” it’s a thing of beauty. Occasionally we will utilize the alternate spelling of Trüett because it looks German, which adds foreign flare to its allure. Speaking of international appeal, Truett in Morse code looks like this: -.-…-.–
We first got the idea for the name “Truett” when I voluntarily went to seminary for 41 months of rigorous academic and ministerial training. Towards the end of an intense workout session in the preaching lab, I was walking back across campus when I turned back around towards the seminary in order to see the sunlight glimmering against the stained glass windows. In the metal letters of an appropriately moderate typeface adorned on the side of the building, there it was emblazoned like a billboard from heaven: GEORGE W. TRUETT THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY. If you can name a building and a seminary after a man, then why not name a dog after a man? The true measure of a human being is whether or not someone names a pet after him/her. You might be thinking, “Great! Galan and Allison are obsessed with a dead pastor!” Aside from the seminary, Truett Cathy, German umlauts, and Morse code, every bit of my facetious comments is trumped by the seriousness of the act of naming.
In the last blog, Brady quoted from Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water: “To be given a name is an act of intimacy as powerful as any act of love…To name is to love. To be named is to be loved.” L’Engle also writes, “Stories are able to help us to become more whole, to become Named. And Naming is one of the impulses behind all art; to give a name to the cosmos we see despite all the chaos.” When I read both of these quotes about naming, I think about the story of Hagar in Genesis 16 and 21.
It would be an understatement to say Hagar was experiencing chaos, and although there is much to be said about her story and her relationships, the aspect of naming offers a compelling lesson to be learned. In the first six verses of Genesis 16, Sarah and Abraham (the artists formerly known as Sarai and Abram) address Hagar as a slave/maidservant but do not call her by name. In fact, Sarah and Abraham never call Hagar by her name. Of all people, Sarah and Abraham ought to know the intimate power of being named, and yet, they do not take the time to distinguish Hagar as a sole person of worth, a valued creation; they pass over an opportunity to speak into another being’s soul and share a message about the Creator. Hagar is only called by name in her encounters with the divine. In Genesis 16:8, the angel of the LORD asks Hagar, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” Hagar answers and then receives an encouraging word from the angel of the LORD. In a vulnerable position, Hagar is called by name and is offered a snippet of her (and her son’s) story. The story offers hope and brings a sense of wholeness to an otherwise scattered, broken individual. Genesis 16:13 captures Hagar’s response: “‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’” In the midst of turmoil, Hagar is empowered with the presence of God, and having seen herself as an individual with an important destiny, she names the LORD!
In the dog days of summer, the Hughes family and the Herbert family both began a new chapter, and it’s a pleasure to share about these experiences and invite others into the story. Being named and therefore being loved is important, but I hope you also note your privilege to give a name to the cosmos, to proclaim the name of God. Every believer is a minister of the Gospel and every Christ-follower can play the role of the artistic theologian in sharing about the name above all names. Have you experienced a time when your purpose in life was made clear to you, and you were encouraged to make known the name of God? Where do you see God at work today? How can you uniquely put a name to the cosmos despite all the chaos around us?