Saturday, July 10, 2010

In which I am at home in Mitford

Forgive me...I've found my mind on overdrive lately, and I find myself enjoying blogging and muddling through these thoughts.

I've been self-indulgently re-reading Jan Karon's Mitford series. The books are ridiculously, almost painfully charming. A small Southern town populated by characters who are lovable and fascinating...Mitford is one of those series where you open up and suddenly you've got an extra 20 friends sitting next to you (which I've particularly enjoyed today since I'm sick. Ugh.). The series centers around Episcopal priest Father Tim Kavanaugh, and it's steeped in religious quotations and moments of conversion, church politics and crises of faith.

And frankly, I absolutely adore it, ridiculous as it may be at times.

Anyways, I was reading the 8th Mitford book today, Shepherds Abiding. It's Christmas themed. Usually I hate seasonally specific books-I find them a little hokey. But this one was lovely. And there were two moments that struck me as particularly poignant. Usually I'm obsessive about reading with a pen in my hand, marking everything I love, but this is a library book, so for posterity, I'm recording my favorites here.

"for many things that deserved to be believed, he had believed with all his might" pg 144
It reminded me of Lewis Carroll's infamous "sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." And then I smiled.

"When you love somebody, your eye lashes go up and down and little stars come out of your eyes. When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth." pg 156

I couldn't stop thinking about how God calls us by name, about how names, picked by our parents, become a part of us, and how as others become a part of our lives, one of the first things we do is to share our name. But names are so intimate, revealing, powerful. Just a whisper of your name sets your head turning, your mind going "who is that who's calling for me?" When we're little, we learn to scrawl those sacred characters in their own special order in a word that means "this is mine, this is of me." We write acrostics featuring our own special letters. We find out our names' origins and meanings. We get called by our full names when we're in trouble, have our names read over microphones as we graduate. "What's in a name," wrote Shakespeare. What isn't? Though it may be a simple word, our lives are marked by our names, right down to when God calls us.

One of the characters in Mitford says that the Lord always calls her by her first and middle name. That tickled me, especially because I find my middle name kind of funny. But how sweet to have a word for ourselves, a word that God knows, too, and how much sweeter to know that our names are safe in his mouth.

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