Wednesday, April 8, 2009

That Rose. That Name. That Sweetness.

Don't tell my mom, but I don't like my name. I never have. It feels ugly in my mouth and I remember once in school being assigned the homework of learning what our names meant and that I didn't need to bother.

"And what does your name mean, Angela?"
"Uh. Angelic".


And I blushed and gagged a little.

Even as a kid, a good kid, I didn't like the idea of being angelic. I've never liked those saccharin stories of angels saving drowning children, or of that business where they whisper sweet words to sick grandmothers and all. That whole guardian angel culture with its plastic figurines and terrible poetry creeps me out. I don't like soft, glowing lights. I don't like easy answers. I don't like angels.

I was telling all of this to the ladies I hang out with on Thursday morning, and of how I also take issue with my last name, as it was my married name and I chose to keep it so that India and I would have the same last name, and they decided they would rename me.
Fantastic, I thought. And a good way to be named - after who you are instead of some random name your parents liked when they knew nothing about you. One good woman even said she would ask God to give me a new name; she would get back to me on it.

Today, India and I read about Peter getting it together after Jesus forgave him his betrayal, about the Holy Spirit coming down like fire, and of his healing of the beggar at the gate called Beautiful. She laughed at the part where he raises a woman, Dorcas, from the dead. I had to read that story twice. It's a funny name.

I thought of how Peter was first called Simon, and of how his new name, the Rock, must have covered him like a curse after that awful night and the cock crowing in the morning, of how he must have had no idea how true his name really was and would become.

A few weeks ago the good woman told me that she had asked God for my new name and that he had said no. That I was named as I should be. So I sighed, because I know God when I hear him, and I began rethinking angels.

To be angelic, I've read, is to cry, Holy, holy, holy," is to say, "Do not fear," to those who are afraid, is to shine like the moon as its face reflects the sun, is to wield a sword, is to speak truth, love fiercely, attend the weary in the garden with the sweat that falls like blood.

There is no trite and easy sweetness here. Mostly, there is burning.

I'll make my peace with them then. Those angels. And because it never turns out well for those who laugh at God, I won't. I'll set my face for angelic, and trust in the truth of things to come over the vision of things that are.


Ramón said...

Fantastic, Angela. I think of you working with those boys and how most divine encounters begin with being told, "Do not be afraid". That's quite a name you bear.

deanna said...

Better than "moon goddess" (though I like mine okay).

Good for the ladies, for praying and stuff. :o)

Janna said...

I'm smacking my forehead like a person in a v-8 commercial because I never thought about the angel correlation, and I've had many friends named Angela.
Last week I finished reading The Power of One, there is some cool name business in there. When I was in high school, I decided to be known by my initials rather than my name. I recently went to a 15 yr. reunion where I had to step back into those shoes. It really opened my eyes to why I'd done it in the first place.
The Bible has lots of cool name stuff too, but I had not thought of this Peter story like this. Thanks for putting all this out there. And keep those Thursday ladies close!

Mike S said...

I've always loved Angela as a name. Just makes me have a vision of a smiling and generous spirit. Kinda like I think of you & India;)