15 July 2020
A Moment to Reflect -62
“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
“Her name was Senga. You have to love Glasgow; once everyone figured we had enough people named Agnes, they just reversed the letters and started again.”
― Jay Stringer, Ways to Die in Glasgow
“Smell the flower first; then call it by name.”
― Marty Rubin
Did any of you enter the BBC competition to give names to the three osprey chicks at Loch Arkaig? (By the way they are now called Doddie, Vera and Captain.)
I don’t have a prize to offer but here’s my little challenge for you today… especially if you are a better-informed gardener than I am. In my sister’s lovely garden there are clumps of these beautiful flowers that are adored by bees and butterflies …but I don’t know what they’re called. Do you? Do you know their name? Answers please in a comment rather than on a postcard!
Since my very earliest years I’ve always been inquisitive about what things are called (see the blog post from 20 June for example https://kirktonchurch.com/a-moment-to-reflect/15/)
Of course, I’m not alone in this. It’s a very human characteristic. And has been from the very start according to the Book of Genesis. If you know the story, you’ll remember that God “took some soil from the ground and formed all the animals and all the birds. Then he brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and that is how they all got their names. So, the man named all the birds and all the animals…” Genesis 2:19-20
Naming (and then classifying) is an essential component of most branches of science and a foundational concept in mathematics. And also, of course, in human society as a whole where our names are part of our identity.
Human beings like to know what things are called. We like to give them names.
You’ve probably heard before about the young child being overheard saying the Lord’s Prayer and getting it not quite right (but also not altogether wrong) by saying:
“Our Father, who art in heaven… how do you know my name?”
Well, God does know our names, and everything about us. In fact, he gives us our name when he calls us his own beloved children.
The prophet Isaiah knew this was true…
“Do not be afraid—I will save you.
I have called you by name—you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1
“Jerusalem, I can never forget you!
I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:16
And the song-writer, Tommy Walker, knows it too in this favourite little children’s song:
I have a Maker, He formed my heart.
Before even time began my life was in his hands.
He knows my name. He knows my every thought.
He sees each tear that falls and He hears me when I call
I have a Father He calls me His own
He’ll never leave me no matter where I go.
© Tommy Walker
P.S. If you do know what that flower is called please let me know!