Madeleine L’Engle is breaking my brain.
After reading “Walking on Water” and having my faith-art-world predictably rocked, I determined to go back and re-read A Wrinkle in Time which, as any true reader will know, automatically lead me to A Wind in the Door. (And today, I have a date with the library to get A Swiftly Tilting Planet.) Despite my admitted math tragedies, the macro mathematics and time dimensions, the suspension of disbelief and modern physics in the pages are not what is breaking my brain. 
It is the theology in these “young adult” books. Namely, naming.
In the pages of A Wind in the Door, Meg Murry discovers that she is a Namer. She must name people or objects in order to bring them to truth. When confronted with a greatly loathed Mr. Jenkins, her former principal now making her little brother’s life miserable by refusing to defend him against near constant bullying, she has to Name him to save him – and therefore, all of us – from destruction. She discovers that to Name him does not mean to call out his actual name, it means to Love him, to call him Beloved.
So here is what I am thinking, my friends: It’s a powerful thing to name. 
I’d like to be like Meg and be a Namer, more than Louise the Larger’s calling as a Teacher.
At first I thought, maybe we could start with our own selves? Because we all know – or think we know – that when a thing is unnamed, it has more power over us. If it stays there in the dark, it stays shameful and powerful.  So whatever it is, whatever it is that is shaming you, plaguing you, holding you, drowning you, putting the lid on the box of your true self, tormenting you, name it and give it Love for the freedom of letting it go. 
Drag that Thing that haunts, kicking and screaming all the way, and throw it into the light, name it and release it. Call those things that are not as they should be and then limp or march or drag or run right on into that truth with me.
But then I realised that’s not really it, is it? But I would like to speak out our true names, seeing with the eyes of faith and love and mercy and grace, being the whisper trail of the Voice of life and freedom.
There are a million people that like to give us names. But….
Our name is not Failure. 
Our name is not Slut. 
Our name is not Worthless or Ugly or Fat or Lazy or Rejected or Lonely or Bitter or Angry or Abandoned or Undeserving of Love. 
Our name is Precious. 
Our name is Beautiful. 
Our name is Chosen, Cherished and Created. 
Our name has been pronounced, my luv, and we, we have been named Beloved. 
See, it there?  Tattooed in a heavenly scrawl on the palm of a hand and written on the stars, in every cell of your body, you can feel it pulsing in your aorta, in the feeling of every good and perfect gift in your life, that small, small taste of a great, big, messy, universe-wide of Love.
We are named because we have been loved by Love. 
And it would be wonderful, wouldn’t it, to be a Namer, a co-conspirator of truth, reclaiming it all by naming it all Beloved?

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In which [love looks like] sitting in the garage together
In which I am a tongue talker
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  • jayekaye

    Love the idea of naming as positive creation and definition…The little story of “Madeleine/Maddening” is one of my favorite illustrations of how we influence one another…

  • Lindsey

    Also pick up “Many Waters”.

  • Madeleine is my patron saint. And A Swiftly Tilting Planet is one of my favorites in that series, though it probably bows to An Acceptable Time. I can’t wait for you to read them all.

    And please, please, please read her Crosswicks Journals. Oh my word.

    • I’m halfway through Swiftly Tilting Planet now. I cannot put it down. I gave Wrinkle in Time one of those “teenager-have-to” reads but now? Wow. Amazed and falling in love. How did it take me so long, David? Shameful, truly. I will probably buy the Crosswick Journals instead of getting them from the library – they seem like a lifetime book.

  • Jemelene

    This falls under my current focus of “speaking life” into one another. We should be speaking life to ourselves as well.

    (Seriously Sarah, do you know how much I love you!?!)

    • Speaking life – I had a whole paragraph on that in there but took it out at the last minute. You’re reading my mind!

  • MckDisturbing

    Yes. Madeleine L’Engle is one I call a personal saint. Her journal series (which I fortunately picked up in college) is one that I always say saved my faith. She let me know that being a Christian could be big and wide, that it could look differently that what I’d been taught. I love Many Waters in the Time series. And I love this idea of being a Namer…especially as I was always the one allowed to name all the animals on my grandpa’s farm! I literally was THE namer. 🙂 

    • I love that, Sam – a “personal saint.” She is wonderful, truly. I’ve been a big Luci Shaw reader for years now and that was my introduction to her (they were best friends, apparently). I gave her Wrinkle in Time a cursory read as a teenager but now? Oh, wow. Will definitely follow it through.

  • Mme Zalopha

    If you have naming on the brain, do put Ursula K. Le Guin’s “A Wizzard of Earthsea” on your list as well.

    • Oh, never heard of that one – will put it on my library queue now.

  • BecomingCrunchy

    I adore Madeleine L’Engle…loved reading this post and the comments of others. And do read anything by her you can get your hands on!

  • Love L’Engle!  I met her once upon a time, which was a dream come true.  This concept reminds me of the book Your Secret Name, figuring out our Given Names and then what God calls us.  Because of that book, I decided my next tattoo will be Beloved, probably in Hebrew, on my wrist so I can see it and claim it daily.

  • rayhollenbach

    The scripture opens and closes with naming: in the beginning, Adam names all creation. At the end of days, Jesus promises: “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says
    to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the
    hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name
    written on it, known only to the one who receives it.”

    Thank God for Madeleine L’Engle, and people like you who call her to mind!

    • Truly profound for me tonight, Ray – thank you.

  • Jillrosalie

    I have “Beloved” tattoed on my right wrist …. because I need the constant reminder of what He has named me!   Great post! 

    • I was actually thinking of you and that gorgeous mark of love you have while I was writing it!

    • I’m planning on getting the same thing- but on my left wrist:)

  • amen, sista! please tell me you’ve read henri nouwen’s “life of the beloved?” 

  • Friend, I love you. 

    Naming myself has been so hard. I’m sitting here, tear streaming, those bad names banging around in my brain. They stay because they have an element of truth to them. But they are not supposed to DEFINE me, and that is where I’m working to change. Posts like these help. So thank you. 

  • In Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry, Jayber has to go to the orphanage.  Children there have their names taken from them and replaced with their first initial.  So he becomes J. Crow.  He says that even that small name change makes them know they are not who they were before.  Losing your name is a loss of identity. 
    Our sweet little foster son (like most orphans in China) has a name that was given to him by the orphanage.  His last name is part of our city name as is true of all the orphans in the orphanage.  Here’s the thing that haunts me- no one will ever know what his name really is.  Except for his mother and father who are out there somewhere…and don’t know who and where he is.  It’s profoundly sad.
    I am so glad that our loving Father calls us by name….and that scene in a Wrinkle in Time is one of the deepest pictures of His love ever written.

  • Love this! I can’t imagine my childhood without the magic of L’Engle.

  • Pinkdrawers

    That was fantastic. Thank you for writing this! It brought some needed clarity with WAVES of energy/goosebumps through me!

  • Mizmelly

    Beautiful Sarah,  and just what I needed to hear this morning…

  • Holleluiah

    This is beautifully written. 🙂

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