Archive for January 1st, 2021

It’s New Years Day 2021, and we mark it’s arrival with the Times Square countdown . We celebrate it with champagne, dance, music, fireworks, kisses and best wishes.

Some still make resolutions that are, for the most part, high-minded intentions with low probability of fulfillment. Nevertheless, it is a time when we look to turn the page. But, really turning the page is a far heavier lift than is the ebullient declaration of intent.

January 1 on the church calendar is also the day on which we commemorate the naming of Jesus in the Temple. The name “ Jesus” derived from the Hebrew verb “ yasha,” meaning “ to deliver, save, or rescue.”

Naming is a profoundly sacred act. There is synchronicity in it that so often correlates with the nature of the child as s/he grows into adulthood. My wife and I saw this very early in the lives of our two children: their differences and the degree to which they embodied their names.

Though they were named prior to birth, their names uncannily captured something of their character, personality, and temperament. The name “ Marc, ” for example, traces back to the Latin “Marcus” connoting “a warlike visionary with keen leadership qualities”. People with this name tend often toward competitiveness: aspirational, serious and goal-oriented. They are quick to challenge and debate. Our son has consistently shown these qualities from day one.

Kristen means “anointed” in Greek, and “ follower of Christ” in Latin. Our daughter demonstrated natural empathy and social intelligence very early in life. She is drawn to the helping professions and forms strong and enduring bonds. Creating moments of deep feeling and an affirmation of the dignity of other people has always been among her signature qualities.

Looking into the history of names reveals clusters of attributes that mirror the archetypes that undergird and inform them. It is interesting that in many religious traditions, second naming accompanies significant life passages.

In Zen Buddhism, one is given a new name by the Roshi upon receiving the Precepts. Traditionally, Confirmation was a time in the Roman Church when the confirmand would select a “ confirmation name”. Upon taking vows in Religious orders, monks and friars take on a new name that signify their sense of spiritual calling alluding to affinities for certain aspects of their chosen spiritual path.

Naming is both inspirational and aspirational. It focuses on the gift inherent in the Call to celebrate our uniqueness and work continuously on uncovering our true natures and best destinies.

I find myself wondering about the Call to become more truly ourselves with each passing year. I do so at the close of this “annus horribillus” in particular. Our life’s mission is to uncover our central tendencies from among the panoply of virtues (along with the shadow that accompanies them).

This is a good and meaningful focus for the New Year: an inflection point at which to look back at the pages we’ve written in our life book so far. Then, after honest recollection, we can ask:

1. What do the pages I’ve already written point to as things needing pruning, and where are my growing edges in answering the Call?

2. Are there better questions worth asking as I lean into this New Year?

But then, this annual discipline begs the question: why not engage in it more often?

Why mark time against rotation around the Sun when we can punctuate each 24 hour rotation of the planet with the same reflection?

This way, the annual summation will indeed be rich and fertile ground for new growth.

I wish you many illuminating new dawns and revelatory night watches that unpack the mystery inherent in your naming.

A Blessed New Year.

© The Harried Mystic, 2021 and Br. Anton, TSSF. and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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