It was a quiet few days, filled with walks and too much coffee, bedtimes hours past their due, help for Spanish exams, and new recipes I've been meaning to try since my cooking class.
Dad was excited to share with Carter and me a local trail he'd discovered that winds its way through a newly constructed wetland preserve. We said we'd go early, there were no cypress trees to shade the boardwalk, but even the 9:30 a.m. sun was enough to baptize Carter in his own sweat.
We saw birds. Lots of them. We'd periodically stop at the wooden posts along the way to try to identify the birds. And we were able to name a few-- the obvious ones like the anhinga and the sandhill crane, but it wasn't enough for me. After our walk, we drove to Barnes and Noble and I bought one of those bird books for amateurs.
Carter and I returned to the wetland preserve the next day, this time armed with my little green book. Carter found it to be a fun game, this finding "matches" and tempted my anger by almost throwing the book into the swamp
I thought about it. This desire to know something or someone's name.
It's not enough for me to tell you I saw a greyish bird with a freakishly long neck, and a small black bird with a red tuft on each of its wings. I had to know their respective names.
It's funny, this name game has been going on since the dawn of creation. Adam's first job (or so) given to him by the Creator was to name the animals. My husband and I are currently vetting a list of names for our baby on its way. A name assigns identity, value and individuality. It distinguishes the one from its species, from its people group and even from its family.
A name is God's way of inviting us to share in His delight of creation.
While Neal was in Haiti, he brought me in for a visit via Skype. We started in his room and then went to the common areas of the orphanage where I practiced my bumbling Haitian Creole with Charlene and a few others. Neal introduced me to some of the orphans, and although their faces were blurred from the poor internet connection, I remembered their forms.
On the 7+ hour ride home from Ft. Lauderdale to Tampa, Neal filled me in on some of their stories. He told me of the 15 year old boy he talked with on the roof whose father sent him across the street to get something right before the earthquake. The building collapsed on and killed his parents moments later. Neal told me of an eleven year old girl, one I remember from my Skype chat who was holding a baby. I thought she was the older sister. She was the mother of that baby, a former slave who was gang raped on an errand and then kicked from her home when her owners discovered the pregnancy.
Knowing the name, and the face and the story, has the power of invitation as well.
We're invited to move beyond a (justified) feeling of hopelessness in the face of overwhelming need and numbers--there are 490,000 orphans and 300,000 child slaves in Haiti right now-- to a place of relationship and empowerment.
Knowing the name is not just an invitation to delight in the uniqueness of a wild bird, a friend's new baby, or an orphan, but to enter their worlds and affect it for change.
It's the first thing we ask each other, one of the first words a child learns and the starting point of all friendships. It's your name. It's his name. It's the power of creation and the invitation to relationship all in one.