What’s in a name?

By Dave Henning / January 5, 2013

Ann Voskamp’s (One Thousand Gifts) husband is a pig farmer in Ontario, Canada.  In Chapter 3 Ann tells of the time her husband was having trouble with his sows delivering stillborn litters or testing positive for pregnancy when they weren’t pregnant at all.  Despite various tests and a consultation with the veterinarian, no solution was forthcoming.  Finally, after some online searches, Ann’s husband came up with a name for the problem.  Even though the problem was nearly impossible to eradicate, her husband felt relieved and “strangely happy”- precisely because the problem had a name.

Similarly, Ann notes, naming the things we are thankful for is learning the “language of Paradise”.  Naming helps us to find our identity- and God’s.  The author cites Alexander Schmemann, from his book For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy:

“Now, in the Bible a name . . . reveals the essence of a thing, or rather its essence as God’s gift. . . . To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it, to know it as coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God.  In other words, it is an act of gratitude.”



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Dave Henning

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