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12.29.2009

Feasting on Our Name

Did I ever tell you that Mrs. McCave
Had twenty-three sons and she named them all Dave?

Well, she did. And that wasn't a smart thing to do.
You see, when she wants one and calls out, "Yoo-Hoo!
Come into the house, Dave!" she doesn't get ONE.
All twenty-three Daves of hers come on the run!

This makes things quite difficult at the McCaves'
As you can imagine, with so many Daves.
And often she wishes that, when they were born,
She had named one of them Bodkin Van Horn
And one of them Hoos-Foos. And one of them Snimm.
And one of them Hot-Shot. And one Sunny Jim.
And one of them Shadrack. And one of them Blinkey.
And one of them Stuffy. And one of them Stinkey.
Another one Putt-Putt. Another one Moon Face.
Another one Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face.
And one of them Ziggy. And one Soggy Muff.
One Buffalo Bill. And one Biffalo Buff.
And one of them Sneepy. And one Weepy Weed.
And one Paris Garters. And one Harris Tweed.
And one of them Sir Michael Carmichael Zutt
And one of them Oliver Boliver Butt
And one of them Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate...
But she didn't do it. And now it's too late.[1]

Dr. Seuss wrote this story and it has always been a favorite of mine – especially on the Feast of the Holy Name which is properly celebrated on the 1st of January - but, sadly most of us will be watching The Rose Bowl that day and will, therefore, miss the opportunity to celebrate this other great victory.

Each of us is given a name – a unique name chosen for us by parents. Some of our names embarrass us because they seem too big for us ("Sir Henry Michael Carmichael, IX" - my apologies to anyone with this name (a quick Google search revealed no matches)), too small for us ("Dot" - a favorite nickname of a handful of my parishioners (and, by the way, it seems to suit them just fine)), or perhaps just a little bit out-of-date ("Bertha" - my great-grandmother's name). But, regardless of the origin or how we feel about it, each of us is given a name.

Dr. Ysaye Barnwell is a singer and composer and also a member of my favorite a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock. One of her compositions seemed particularly right for this occasion. It is called "We Are."

For each child that's born
a morning star rises
and sings to the universe
who we are.

We are our grandmothers' prayers.
We are our grandfathers' dreamings.
We are the breath of our ancestors.
We are the spirit of God.[2]

A morning star sings to the universe who we are. God has given each of us a name. And that name, is Child of God. And so on this day when we celebrate the holy name of Jesus, we celebrate also our own adoption as children of God.


[1] “Too Many Daves,” Dr. Seuss – One Cool Cat section of The Savage Garden website (author: David B. Aeschliman) available here (accessed on December 29, 2009).
[2] “We Are,” Lessons (1993). Lyrics obtained online on December 29, 2009.

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