August 15, 2011

What's in a Name

Some stories we hold close, keeping them in our mental keepsake drawer.

Others we keep in the wings, waiting for the perfect moment: meeting of the daughter’s first boyfriend, revenge when she’s acting like petulant teen.

This story has both elements.  

I’ll share it with you, on this, the feast of the Dormition of Mary – the day that commemorates Mary’s “falling asleep” – her death and rebirth into the kingdom of heaven. It'll be a few more years before our daughter hears the re-telling.

A few years ago, as we were forming an after-school children’s program, I talked with our daughter about the plans.

What should we name the group, I asked.

She thought for a few moments.

Well, she said. It should definitely be named after a woman in the Bible. (I don’t know her logic behind this, but my strong, independent-woman streak preened).

I know, she exclaimed. What’s Mary’s first name? After I ascertained that she was indeed talking about Mary, Jesus’ mother, I raked my liturgical memory to see what she could possibly mean.

I’ve got it, she announced triumphantly, with the certainty of all of her seven years. The Virgin Mary. We’ll call our group, “the Virgins.”

There are those times when as a mother, it takes every bit of willpower you can muster not to laugh. This was one of those moments. In complete naivety, she thought this would be a wonderful title, an honor, really, to have a group named for the loving and devoted mother of Christ.

In a grace-filled moment, I was able to respond quickly: I think the boys would feel left out. How about, um, GodSquad.

She considered it for a minute, then gave her approval and moved on to the next subject of the day.

In my prayers, I thanked God for the sweet innocence of children – and for the ability to quickly conjure a name more suitable for church bulletins and school announcements.