“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.” Juliet in Romeo and Juliet

some random thoughts on “names”

As I was heading to the parking garage yesterday, I noticed signs announcing that the Battery Tunnel is being renamed the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel. I hope that is a wonderful remembrance of Mr Carey’s public service. But I do  wonder how long it will take people to refer to it as the Carey Tunnel instead of the Battery Tunnel. In the past year or so, the Triboro Bridge has been renamed the RFK Bridge. Does anyone call it that?  I have noticed on some highway signs it has the exit number and then there is a little sign that says “old exit #___”. I have often wondered how long do you keep the old exit # signs up. At what point do you have to start using the new number.

When Bruce and I were picking names for our children. There were a few names I couldn’t even consider because through the years I had students with those names. We had three girl’s names picked but neither of our daughters looked like a Sarah so no Sarahs in our family. I have had students who I always called the wrong name because they didn’t look like that name. To be honest I am a little confused by some of the names parents especially celebrities pick for their children. I don’t think some parents think through that the child is going to have that name forever (unless they change it). And some names are hard to spell and will be very long on that lined paper in kindergarten.

One of my favorite stories about “names” happened when I was a kindergarten aide at a Christian School. The teacher had asked “who remembers the names of the young men in our story yesterday?” The day before the teacher had read the story from Daniel 3 about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. At the time there was a poplar Veggie Tales video about the same story.  A few little hands waved in the air and Miss B. picked a one of the eager students to answer. The child said “Shack, Rack and Benny” – the names from the Veggie Tales video. We tried not to laugh and Miss B. said “Almost what are their real names?” More little hands waving. She calls on another student who says “Larry, Bob and Junior”. In case you aren’t familiar those are the Veggie Tale’s character’s names. It was too funny. And the whole time I am thinking Shadrach, Meshach and “to bed we go”.

The Bible is full of stories of God giving people new names – Abram and Sarai will become Abraham and Sarah, Jacob will become Israel, Saul will become Paul. They will each receive a new name and a new task. I am reminded of a time  when I was teaching the story of Jacob’s name change and a student says “He was named after a country that is weird!” ‘No, the country was named after him.”  And then another student chimes in “your cousin is named Aja (prononuced asia) and that is a continent.” Don’t you just love 5th graders. 🙂

 My favorite name story is when Moses asks “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me,”What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” “God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites:’I am has sent me to you'”