What’s in a Name?
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
Juliet Act II, Scene 2 Romeo and Juliet
I agree with Juliet. A rose would still emit the sweet, rose fragrance if we called it a daisy or a hydrangea or a bachelor button (also called cornflower and the Boutonniere flower.) A name is simply a label. The essence of a thing doesn’t change because of its name, right?
At our house, my name changes with almost each person who calls for me. All my children began calling me mommy, but through the years they’ve stamped their personal identities on my moniker.
Anna usually calls me “Marmee,” like Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy called their mother in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. She’ll sometimes shorten it to “Marm.” Other times she elongates it to “Marmalade”, not because I like the orange jam but more because she thinks it’s a funny word. She’s a funny girl.
Hattie always calls me “Madre.” I have no explanation for this name. She studied French, not Spanish. Once in a while “Mum” will sneak into an email, but “Madre” is her normal choice for me.
Lane and Quinn mostly still call me Mommy. It’s true, but sometimes, they’ll call me Mother. Lane, for example, will resort to Mother especially when he’s exasperated with me and dealing with an imagined infraction on my account. He says it with emphasis on the last syllable and draws it out several beats, like “Moth-errrrrrrr.” It’s back to Mommy, though, when he wants me to proof an essay for him.
A few years ago, I discovered a cool website for the different names of God. It provides the Hebrew text for the name, the most common English transliteration, and the name’s definition. Some of my favorite names include El Hanne’eman, The Faithful God, from Deuteronomy 7:9; El Olam, The Everlasting God, from Isaiah 26:4; El Roi, The God Who Sees Me, from Genesis 16:13; El Gibbor, The Mighty God, from Isaiah 9:6; Immanuel, God With Us, from Isaiah 7:14; and El Hannora, and The Awesome God, from Nehemiah 9:32.
The one I’m thinking about this week, Holy Week, however, is El Yeshuati, The God of My Salvation, from Isaiah 12:2: “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.”
No matter what we call Him, or even if we don’t, He is God.
Praise be to God for His great and awesome gift.