When a woman is expecting, often, one of the first questions that she gets asked is this: “So have you thought about any names?”
Choosing a name is an important part of the initiation into parenthood.
In Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door (part of the Wrinkle in Time quintet), the theme of naming and un-naming determines the course of the story. The evil powers, with all their might, attempt to un-name everything in the universe, in their grand plan of trying to erase it. The protagonist, Meg, finds out that she is a “Namer,” who does the opposite of what the evil “Echthroi” do – she names things with love and care, giving them life and creative power.
This science-fantasy novel is pointing at something remarkable – that a name is not just a word to identify someone, but it is the identity of that person. It is the thing that blows life into the spirit. And what is more powerful and beautiful than a parent giving a name to their child, with all their love, hopes and dreams for their future?
There are as many ways to choose names as there are individual parents who are naming their children. Some may find comfort in a simple name or a popular name, and others may want something unique or different, or be named after someone, a place, or something else that is significant to them.
And for some, the names just come to them.
One of my best friends back home in Tokyo had an amazing experience with the name of her daughter, her second child. She wanted to choose a name that would work in both English and Japanese, and although her and her husband thought of a few different ones, she was secretly set on the name “Lila” (lee-lah). She also thought of what characters to use for the name (in Japanese, you can choose from hundreds of different characters that all have different meanings for each syllable). What she came up with for the characters were not very common (in fact, she’s probably the only one with this name, which is unusual in Japan in the first place, with these characters). At this point, neither her nor her husband had told anybody else about the name, let alone about what characters to use.
Out of the blue, her mother-in-law called to say that she had written them a letter about something important, and asked if she could send it to them. They thought this was very strange, but of course they told her that it was okay to send the letter. When the letter arrived and they read it, they were in such shock and awe that they really couldn’t comprehend what was happening, and at the same time, understood immediately that this unborn child had a powerful spirit already.
In the letter, her mother-in-law told them about a dream that she had had recently, a dream in which there was a strong message from some greater power. For this lady who is not very spiritual to write a letter about a message that came to her in a dream was very out of the ordinary.
In the dream, she was told that the baby’s name must be “Lila,” with the exact same characters that my friend had thought about! Her mother-in-law saw the characters in the dream, and because it was such an intense and different dream, she felt like she had to write it down and tell them in a letter.
I still remember the day she called me about this. “I guess the baby made the final decision for you!” My friend was just amazed at the connection that she already had with the little life growing inside of her.
I cried when she told me. I cried not only because it’s an amazing, unbelievable story, but because it just affirmed to me that birth is magical and miraculous. Because it proved to me that our babies are messengers, angels who come into our lives, full of creative and loving energy.
How are you naming your children? Whether they come to us in a dream or you search the internet for ideas, if we do it with our utmost care and love, your children will own their names, and they will have it as a guide to move through life and fulfill their life’s purpose.