“A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming.”― Madeleine L'Engle,
|Art by @aprildiorio at Terminus City Tattoo, Duluth, GA|
How many? Great heavens, earthling. I haven't the faintest idea.'
But you said your last assignment was to memorize the names of all of them.'
I did. All the stars in all the galaxies. And that's a great many.'
But how many?'
What difference does it make? I know their names. I don't know how many there are. It's their names that matter.”
― Madeleine L'Engle,
If you know me well, you doubtless know that my two favorite American authors are Madeleine L'Engle and Flannery O'Connor. I love O'Connor because she kept things real. She recognized the "freaks" (her word) around her and called them out for what they were. It didn't matter whether they were the most respected church folk or the basest criminals- everyone has some kind of freakishness inside. I love that. L'Engle, on the other hand, focused on the highest possibilities of what people might become. Her philosophy about the power of words and love and the essence of what makes us all human lifts my spirit whenever I read her work. The two women together offered a balance of grace and reality that I want to have in my own life.
In recent years I have been struck by the word becoming. I hadn't really considered the idea until I became involved with the Becoming 3lectric project a couple of years ago, but when I connect the concept of ontology to becoming, my own ideas took on a shape I couldn't have anticipated before beginning this Ph.D. journey. I have learned about many philosophies and worldviews, but I always circle back to the same faith that I share with L'Engle and O'Connor. The form of faith's expression is different for all three of us, but the foundation is the same. In the predominately secular world of academia, I sometimes struggle with what I will ultimately become, forgetting that the process of becoming is much longer than the years I will reside as an academic. There will be a balance in the end. In fact, I need to remember Paul's words to the Philippians, "I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). He who began that work will complete it. I am not complete yet. I am becoming.
But what am I becoming? I am becoming named. When we value something, we give it a name. When we marry, we decide whose name to take as a family unit. We consider how we name our children carefully, considering meaning, tradition, and how the name sounds when paired with middle and surnames- just in case. The more we value something, the more importance we give to the name. In ancient days names predicted who a person would become or the legacy a person was expected to fulfill. We honor those who have gone before with names. We share hope for the future through names. We establish the fundamentals of our identity through the names we choose and the names we use. To be named is to be cherished, loved, and valued.
When I put on my skin "becoming named" I recognize that my journey is incomplete. God is still working in me to make me the woman HE has planned in advance for me to be. When things get hard, I must know that the hardships are part of the process of being named by HIM because I am cherished and loved and valued. My naming will be finished when my becoming is complete. My story will be told, my purpose fulfilled, and I will be named. Until then, I am a work in progress, being named.
“Stories are able to help us to become more whole, to become Named. And Naming is one of the impulses behind all art; to give a name to the cosmos we see despite all the chaos.”
― Madeleine L'Engle,