I had a dream once in which I was in a warehouse-like grocery store at the check out counter. “There’s a tornado coming,” someone shouted, and everyone ran to the back of the building, away from the floor to ceiling windows facing the parking lot.
Then the tornado came into the building – through the open door. But I saw that it was small, not much taller than a linebacker, really. And I was very curious, so I stayed. It came right up to where I was standing, right up to the other side of the check out counter. I looked at it, a little dumbfounded. The wind of it blew my hair back and stung my cheeks. Cloud and dust were swirling around in a thick darkness.
It was a moment of acute awareness. There I was, standing at the check out counter, hands resting on the conveyor belt, eyeball to vortex with a tornado. No one else was anywhere around. It was just me and it. And then it said, “Your name is . . .”, and it gave me an image impossible to adequately translate into words. The image was so clear and so amazing that I have never forgotten it.
And it is, indeed, my name; I can’t deny it. In the depths of my heart, it transfigures me. The understanding that the tornado gave me made room for me to live my life in a way a little contrary to the norm. It helped me be who I truly am.
Up on the mountain with his disciples, Jesus hears the voice of God. God names him who he is most authentically, who he has been from the creation of the universe. With the gift of his true name, he also receives the courage not to turn aside from his path to Golgotha. And he is transfigured.
When someone names you, and does it with the sure knowledge that comes from the profound reach of the soul, you know it. They tell you who you are, and something deep within you resonates. All you can say is, “Yeah, that’s me, all right.” It transfigures you.
If you think about it you may have experienced such a moment. Often it isn’t a mountain-top event. We are named in everyday circumstances, by those with whom we share a glimpse of who we really are. A friend of mine was named by an emotionally disturbed child with whom she worked. “You are not happy,” he told her. “But you are mean to all the monsters. You are The Monster Tamer.” When she told me what he had said, her face was dazzling.
Who in your life has named you? What is your authentic name? What does this name give you the courage to take on? What does it allow you to let go of? How has it transfigured you?
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.
Image from Pinterest