I say, ‘Good morning’ to 4 groups of people:
- Those I don’t know. I smile. I’m just being friendly. Grandchildren are embarrassed!
- Those I recognise but don’t know… the lady in the house on the corner… the man walking his dog…
- Those I know whose names I can’t remember. I hope my brain will work it out… Now I’m embarrassed!
- Those whose names I know. ‘Good morning, Frank.’ ‘Good morning, Vera.’ The name makes it personal.
I love Bob Dylan’s ‘God gave names to the animals’ that ‘explains’ how man named bear, cow, bull, pig, sheep, snake…
When children visit the zoo they enjoy naming the animals… ‘Meercat, giraffe, orang-utang…’ When we’re out with our binoculars we enjoy identifying birds… ‘snipe, avocet, marsh harrier…’
A doctor diagnoses and names an illness, a car-enthusiast names the make and model of a car, a music-lover names a song that’s playing… The name gives clarity, identification… it makes it personal…
Last week I was chatting with a friend outside our local Wetherspoons. A gent on the next table looked up: ‘Malcolm Short’. He knew my name! ‘You don’t know who I am?’ he said. Too right! I had no idea!
He gave me one a few clues… I worked out who it was. I hadn’t seen Andy for years. We had a lovely chat, recalling some good times from 35 years ago. Knowing each other’s name made the conversation personal.
I’m reading Mark’s gospel. Jesus calls his 12 disciples – naming them personally: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means ‘sons of thunder’), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew… (3:16-19)
Musing… Words from the ancient prophet: ‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast…? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…’
The tattoo on the arm, the love in the heart, the name makes it personal.