Sunday, April 25, 2010
Where everyone knows your name!
One of my many flaws is my inability to remember names. I am very good at faces and will brighten when a familiar one comes into view but then I am hit by the reality that I cannot - for the life of me - remember their name!
This occurs at the grocery stores when I encounter people I see every Sunday at Mass and at conventions when I see people I have met once or twice in the past. In both places, I am rendered embarrassed.
The comic, Brian Regan, (www.brianregan.com) has a wonderful routine when he reveals this same flaw. He makes light of our habit of then resorting to nicknames - "Hey, Buck-A-R00!" It is one of those routines that you laugh at; not only because your recognize yourself in it but you realize others have done the same with you.
Memory experts will tell you to use imagery to help you remember someone's name (upon meeting me, for example, you might want to picture a sheep as 'Rachel' means 'ewe), or to use the new acquaintance's name repeatedly in the conversation. This latter technique can lead to an odd conversation as you keep dropping the name as often as you can in a conversation about the rising price of groceries. "So, Lucinda, have you found a good price for ground beef, Lucinda? Or, Lucinda, do you prefer chicken dishes??" Odd. And, try as I might, none of the advised strategies work for me. I am hopelessly name-impaired and probably always will be.
But names mean so much to us, don't they? I am quite attached to the spelling of my name - the biblical spelling - and get miffed when folks want to add that extra 'a' or if they mispronounce one of my children's names (it is Brigid not Bridget).
Names matter and how wonderful is it that our Lord knows us so well. From today's gospel - "My sheep hear my voice; I know them,"
God will neither forget our names, nor mispronounce it. He knows us so well which then requires our own response. In the gospel it is made clear - "and they follow me." We then are to know him and follow him. How well do we do this and with what passion and dedication? Do we need to use imagery? Do we need to repeat His name again and again so we don't forget?
Either technique works well with our God and He provides us the beautiful imagery Himself - He is a shepherd, He is a Father and we can remember His name every time we pray. Perhaps the familiar "Our Father who are in heaven" or perhaps the ancient - Te Deum - "You are God, we praise you; You are the Lord, we acclaim you; You are the Eternal Father: All creation worships you."
At your next LF meeting, make a point of calling each girl by her name, make a game of names or ask everyone to share how they got their name. Our names matter to us and they matter to God. He will call them when we finally meet - let us strive to live a life that ensures that we know Jesus' name so well, people might be tempted to think it is our own. What a joy to think that someone might forget I am 'Rachel, with no second 'a' and rather be reminded of our Lord and His love and mercy!