Monday, March 1, 2010

Hello, My Name Is ____.

I am going to go ahead and just admit that we go through a lot of drive-thru windows. There, I've said it. In fact, when my boys were young, Cole, my oldest, pleadingly asked one day, "Mom, can't we just for once eat lunch at home?" My response: "Hush, Cole, roll down your window and tell the lady what you want."
That should have been my wake up call. But, it wasn't. Poor kid.
So, that leads me straight (?) into names and name tags and knowing people's names and calling them by their (correct) names. During the span of my teaching career, I came to see that the sound of our own name is the single sweetest sound there is. Let me amend that by adding, our names attached to kind words and noticeably wonderful actions is sweet. "Beautiful job, Gayle." "Lovely work, Polly." Maybe the sound is not so lyrical when we recall our parents ranting up the stairs, " Theresa Marie Arrington, get down here this minute and clean up this mess." Either way, most of us love to hear our names spoken safely and lovingly from the lips of others.
So, today when we pulled through KFC, should I have said, "Thank you, Debra."? The guy who bagged my groceries at Kroger's name was Tim. I saw it on his name tag. But, do I say, "Thank you, Tim" or just pretend like I don't see it? The man who changed my oil (another drive thru) wore a little faux brass tag that read,"Jeremiah." Am I allowed or supposed to use his name in the sentence when I address him? Or does he remain anonymous and unseen---just a worker there to serve? What does it do for us when we personalize those name tags and you know, see those people as well.....people? People who have a mama and a daddy and brothers and sisters?
Human beings within my line of vision, touching, hearing? Are they nameless?
Many times when Taylor and I are out walking, people will stop us on the street. It's so interesting. They will speak to me, they will speak to my dog, Murphy, but so often they will not acknowledge Taylor on any level--no eye contact, no smile, no hello. Of course, no name. He's not there. He's simply not there. I've gotten better about saying (after they've made over the dog), "This is my son, Taylor."
I'm not sure it is always a "take"--like they'll speak next time and use his name, but it's a start. It's the start of a conversation that means that we are all important and have names and are real---real human beings. How does that go unnoticed so often? (Believe me, I'm in this conversation with you--not leading you.)
I sometimes think about The Vietnam War Memorial and the names engraved in that wall. Inscribed in the wall are the names of more than 58,000 men and women who were killed in the Vietnam War or who are still missing in action. Don't you know how their relatives must find some degree of comfort being able to go there and touch the name of their beloved etched on that granite? To see, to call, to say, to share the name of someone we love is to bear witness to the value of their lives. Calling one another by name is acknowledging that yes, your life matters. You have a name. You count in this life.
As a kid, doing sword drills, I always loved finding this verse: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine." So, here's my question. How, on a daily basis, do we redeem our love and connection for one another? Yes, for all whom we see and give money to and take double cheese burgers from? Do we call them by name? Are they real? Are we?
We each need a witnesses to our lives. We long to be called by our names.
This is my son, whose name is Taylor.
"Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness'."
Hello, my name is____.
Please be a witness to my life and to __________'s life. We all matter.