Saturday, October 31, 2009

Let's All Become Namers

Magical Morning

I have always loved to name things. The morning I left San Damiano Retreat Center there was a perfectly lovely sunrise. I didn’t just see the sunrise that morning; I took time to experience it. I have posted the sunrise above and its name is MAGICAL MORNING.

My fascination with naming things began early in my life. Once when I was a very young thing, surely not past nine, I went to my mother almost in tears and said, “It isn’t fair; everything is already named.” At this late date in life, I can’t recall her exact words but she seemed to suggest that I could create new names—and so I did. I’ve been naming things ever since. I name the places that speak to me. I name special trees, gardens, brooks, big rocks, meadows and valleys. I name experiences and growing seasons. Sometimes I give people new names. I often use these names in my prayer. A few days ago when I was doing my “memories prayer,” I prayed, O Holy One, do you remember our velvet evening of so long ago?That was all the prayer I needed. I simply beheld the velvet evening again remembering exactly where I was, what I was feeling, how I was growing.

There is power in a name. We can enable others to feel beautiful by the way we pronounce their name. I think of Mary Magdalene in the garden on resurrection morning and can only imagine how she felt as she heard Jesus saying her name, “Mary!” Your name can become a prayer by the way you pronounce it. Sometimes I use my name as a prayer mantra when I am meditating.

It is very important to honor people’s names. We must do all in our power to keep people named and never un-name them I learned about un-naming others in Madeleine L’Engle’s book, A Wind in the Door. I will quote a bit from the book but first I must tell you that a cherubim named Proginoskes and nick-named, Progo, has come to Meg’s planet (earth) to help her understand that when you do not love others you un-name them.

Progo, you said we were Namers. I still don’t know: what is a Namer?”
“I’ve told you . A Namer has to know who people are, and who they are meant to be. I don’t know why I should have been shocked at finding Echthroi (evil) on your planet.” (and Meg asks, Why are they here?) “Echthroi are always about when there is war. They start all war. …I think your mythology would call them fallen angels. War and hate are their business, and one of their chief weapons is un-Naming—making people not know who they are. If someone knows who s/he is, really knows, then s/he doesn’t need to hate. That’s why we still need Namers, because there are places throughout the universe like your planet, Earth. When everyone is really and truly Named, then Echthroi (evil) will be vanquished.”

And so I say to my readers:



  1. Yes, I believe we all like to be called tenderly. I once did a group collage on this subject where we worked off a quote in a German calendar: "everything asks to be caressed and called by its soft and tender name." The link to this is provided in the URL of my identity here.
    My spiritual teacher suggests we chant the names of God as if enjoying our favorite flavor of ice cream, savoring every syllable. So much more personal if we come up with our own names!

  2. Here, here! I have always felt the same about naming, I love L'Engle's books and the quote you included. Count me in, in your Ministry of Naming! Thank you for these beautiful thoughts, Macrina. I sure hope you are feeling better. Wishing you a safe and happy journey on Thursday.

  3. Macrina, I love the stories of the things that you remember about your childhood and the times that your mother could be your spiritual teacher. What a gift. I am so moved by the idea of making someone feel beautiful (or less than beautiful) by the way that we pronounce their names. The idea of chanting my OWN once frightening and inviting. Also, chanting the names of loved ones that I especially struggle with. How that will change my heart to love instead of conflict. Also, thinking about chanting the names of those that I have lost as my prayers on this All Saints Day. To Fe: I LOVE the quote and the idea to use it in collage! Love....

  4. Macrina - naming has become such a strong resonance for me. Recently a dear priest friend gifted me forever by simply saying to me: "You are Bi-Lingual" ... suddenly all the years of worshipping at two churches and walking the middle way as a Benedictine Oblate were named and honored with such love and affirmation ! Yes - I love naming ...