In some stories - fantasies and fairy tales - there's an idea that knowing someone's name gives power, either over circumstances or over the creature itself. Rumpelstiltskin for example. In real life I think there is an element of truth to this. People feel connected - feel valued - when we know and use their names.
One of my responsibilities (joys?) at school is standing outside monitoring traffic and greeting students. Sure, when it is 20 degrees or a torrential downpour, it's not much of a joy, but most days I enjoy seeing the students and trying to be a positive part of the start of their day.
The other day, as a mom was pulling away, she said she enjoyed hearing me greet the students by name. Another joy of my position is that I see 98% of the students in the building each week in the library and all of them in the lunchroom. So I know their names.
My first thought as she drove off was all the times I have called kids by the wrong name - and not just the identical twins, either, but calling younger brothers by the older brothers' name or just flat out saying the wrong name all together. I hate when I do that - it feels like an insult to call the student by the wrong name.
My second thought was a piece of scripture - I couldn't even remember where it came from:
"I have called you by name. You are mine."
God knows each of us by name and has called us - "summoned" us, according to the NIV (Isaiah 43:1). The whole rest of the morning this verse hung with me - and even now, a week later, it is still roaming around in the back of my head. Every time I call one of my students by name - greet them, congratulate them on something they have done or tell them I'm glad they are back after an illness, I think of how it might feel to each student to be known by name - not just one in a crowd. I think of how God cares enough about us to call us by name.
This idea of names and this moment with this mom are things I want to SAVOR this year.