called by name

I woke up to the litany of names. Maybe you did, too.

Every year on this day they wind around me as I sip my morning cup of tea, greeting another sunny September day like that bright one we pause to remember (can it be eleven years ago now?). I listen to the litany. Names read by loved ones, a simple, solemn recitation. Just enough pause to let the sounds and syllables sink in before the next name begins.

Names that sound foreign and names that sound familiar. Janitors and bankers and moms and firemen. People who rushed in and people who tried to get out.

All of them gone. All of them loved.

The only thing I treasure about this awful anniversary is that honoring each name is our way to remember.

. . .

We’ve been church shopping for months.

I hate to admit it, because I dislike a consumerist mindset when it comes to faith communities: what can I get here? what can you give me? But our recent move landed us smack in the middle of four different parishes, all equal distance from our house. So we have to decide where will be home.

Each one draws us for a different reason: a great school, a beautiful worship space, a vibrant liturgical life, a warm community. The choice is hard, but we long to settle in – to stop slipping in and out of pews unknown, to cease the Sunday hop from church to church.

But one parish has something that none of the others have.

Before you walk into the sanctuary, you stop at a wooden table with markers and nametags in a wicker basket. The small sign above reads: We are all called by name through baptism. Babies and adults alike slap the sticker on our shirt. When we wind our way to the front for communion, the minister glances at our nametag with a smile and proclaims our name before offering the Body of Christ. The children are blessed the same – by name, with a soft hand laid on their heads.

Every time it gives me goosebumps. The power of being called by name.

I think we found our home.

. . .

I dropped him off at preschool again this morning. I mentally crossed fingers and toes that we’d have another day like last Thursday, the one day he didn’t cry when I left. But I wasn’t sure. He’s a cautious soul, my firstborn.

We held hands tightly as we crossed the parking lot to the front door. Parents and preschoolers all around us did the same. But one little boy, carried in his mother’s arms, squirmed to the side and pointed with delight at my son.

“There’s S!” he exclaimed with a broad smile.

His mother turned. “Is that your buddy?” she asked. The boy just grinned. My son smiled right back, though he said nothing in return.

He didn’t cry today. (Though I teared up as I drove away.)

The power of being called by name.

I think he’s home.

13 thoughts on “called by name

  1. Erica Chappelear says:

    Love the way this parish encourages the use of Name Tags! I will take this to my church 🙂 Also, the preschool story brought a tear to my eye. I’m so with you as my 3 year old boy has those days too… and one special friend who will give him a hug (and sometimes they fight too) just like brothers, very much home.

    • mothering spirit says:

      I had never been to a Catholic parish that used name tags, although I know other traditions use them more frequently. I can tell the people who have been at the parish for ages and are used to the nametags, b/c they will often use people’s names at the Sign of Peace, too – total culture change for Catholics who often need a little nudge toward fellowship! 🙂

  2. Thrift Store Mama says:

    I’m so happy for you that you’ve found a church home. I grew up in the perfect (for me) parish and just loved it. I haven’t been able to find the right mix of worship space, liturgical style, and community in a parishin my own adult life and I miss that.

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