Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What's in a name?

What's in a name?

Her parents gave her a scandalous name.  In an affront with today's sensibilities her parent's are being called out for naming her at birth with a name that draws scorn. What were they thinking?

Born over twenty-one years ago, the baby was a welcomed surprise as her parent's were told they may never be able to conceive. Mary broke the news to Tom just before their vacation in the Caribbean was about to begin. Shock and awe were the emotions written on Tom's face as she broke the news. After trying for three years a new life was being knitted in Mary's womb. "Well, I guess you're going to be the designated driver for awhile", Tom quipped. The month's rolled on by, a bit slowly for Mary's comfort, as the couple prepared their home for the new arrival.

Mary was the "glue" for the extended family, hosting most holiday's, preparing for each festivity with great detail and care. However, as the time for baby's arrival drew closer to toward Thanksgiving, sister-in-law, Geri took the rains an hosted this year's meal. Till this day, Mary credits Geri's turkey dinner as the key catalyst to the start of her thirteen hour labor.  The birth had it's challenges as Doctor Paul had to bring the baby into a proper birth position. Tom and Mary waited to learn the baby's sex and on the day after Thanksgiving a seven pound, two ounce girl came into their world.

Little did her parent's know how their next decision would create such scandal some twenty years into the future, for as they say, "what's in a name?".

Tom and Mary, got the traditional baby name books. Brooke was a popular name, there seemed to be a bunch of "Claire's" around town and they weren't interested in any exotic name. But her name would have to be special, considering the circumstances of her birth and predictions of infertility.  The parents were known to be a gregarious couple, rooted toward a conservative bent, not shy to call it as they saw it and were considered by many to be religious.

The Aquino's were not your soft and fuzzy spiritual types, they were deeply rooted in their "organized" religion. Their Church is not immune to scandal, the institution pushes itself into the public  square and worked to spread its beliefs into every aspect of the public sphere, including schools, community venues and government. Moments of silence at sporting events became times of prayer, every school shooting or tragedy became an opportunity to convert the world to their "God".  Why couldn't they just keep it quiet, and leave their religious beliefs behind closed doors or vacant like the rest of us.

Today, it's not what you believe, but your chosen identity. What's relative is key to your own style and definition of success. You see, you have only yourself to rely on, and the individual is the supreme being to be worshiped. Sure the government has provided us freedom of religion, but it really just means your freedom to worship; behind closed doors of course, unless you conflict with the government's beliefs and boundaries. Life begins when the the government says, not according to your outdated superstitions. Life ends when we deem that your quality of life does not measure up to the normal acceptable minimum quality of life. Your life is yours to end, we'll even provide the doctor and means to do it quietly and privately, and disposal of your remains is as easy as taking out the trash! Choice supersedes life, especially unexpected, unplanned, unwanted life. Remember to dust you shall return, now I see where they mention recycling in that good book of yours!

So the Aquino's crossed the line. They couldn't just keep it to themselves. They didn't play the game! They frowned on sports, because it conflicted with Sunday's! Thankfulness and blessings seem to permeate every conversation. Prayer, the mindless gibberish and hopeful wishes interrupted their daily routine. Church-time and "parish" activities trumped game days. Instead of being self-reliant they were reliant on their God. Can you believe it (pun intended)? Sure cocktail party conversations remained light, until someone pushed the wrong button and asked the deep questions as to why do bad things happen, what does it all mean, and is this as good as it get's?

I get every one get's what they deserve. Karma, I guess. They say everything happens for reason. But how could they ruin this baby's future. How could they be so callous and unthinking.  How could they force their superstitious ways on this unsuspecting child. They choose to keep their dependent, dependent on something unprovable, the transcendent which is hidden from the empirical.

It seemed that her name would set her outside the pack, embrace the peculiar, turn her gaze outward, juxtaposed the coveted "selfie-shot" posturing we've all grown to love. Baby Aquino would welcome self-sacrifice and throw vanity to the wind. Her beautiful long locks of hair, donated to those accursed with cancer. Although an only child, service toward her "brothers and sisters" would outweigh personal consumption and entertainment. Empathy replaced anxiety, looking outside herself would provide insight to her inner soul.

Heart on her sleeve, she projected a shameful confidence in this perfect world. Drawn to the dregs and "skells", the unwanted and undeserved, young Aquino was unlike most of the boys and girls in her town.

She would never know the impact of her name until her early twenties when she embarked out onto the world. You see, her name was cause for pause. It challenged secular sensibilities. The beautiful people, rejected her, the government saw her beliefs as a threat to the  addiction with which it hoped to entangle the poor. Her name pointed to the transcendent, the creator, the one outside creation.  Funny it's seems that God is not so much hidden from our view, but it is us who choose to put on the blinders and walk around in the dark.

The young woman, would not walk proudly, but assume the cloak of humility, every pointing outside herself. Aggression was met with kindness, disbelief with hope, tragedy with prayer, hurt with healing and injustice with forgiveness. How odd, this woman, how curious her judgement, how different her ways! "I did not create this Way, but had it handed down to me", she would remark. "I learned this from my loved ones, and through the grace of God, I have found joy. In the suffering I see the one who showed me what sacrifice really means.  I'm as broken as the community with which I live, I suffer, I worry, I am a sinner.  I just keep working to see that which may be hard for most to see.  I see the creator in the face of everyone I meet, the addict, the drunk, the pauper, the business man, the nun, the priest, the child, the infant. My blinders are always adjusting and I hope to have them removed someday."

"I was told that a kingdom was brought about some two thousand years ago, and it's our job to bring it to completion, not on our own, but with the help of the one who creates. I've just chosen to say yes and be His instrument wherever it lead... Which I have no doubt is toward the good. You see at first I never knew the impact of my name, I had to grow into it. Now, thankfully I have a history and actions tied to the name with which I have been blessed. This scandalous name, this challenge to the world has many facets. So when you are in need, just call my name, FAITH."

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