Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Monday, October 31, 2011

Power of Naming the Bible a name...reveals the very essence of a thing, or rather its essence as God's gift...To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it, to know it as coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God. To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for it and in it.  ~ Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy

A double blessing this morning.  The reading of Psalm 8 and Susan Boyle singing, How Great Thou Art.

In my younger and stronger days (pre car accident) I managed our large hog operation. It was difficult, dirty, and tiring work and I loved it.  I loved the sows (mama hogs) and I never tired of the miracle of birth.

Voskamps also raise hogs on their farm and on page 50 Ann begins to recount a time when the sows were aborting their litters early.  The Farmer and the vet had tried everything to find the cause, but without success. Day after day the Farmer worked yet his stock remained ill.

One thing that struck this heathen (aka me) was what Ann described as also being a part of this daily ritual of tending...and dying.
At the table...The Farmer sinks down into his chair at the end, lowers his head in prayer. He thanks God for the sustenance. I pray for some of that too.... I clear the table and he reads Scripture. We do this at the close of every meal..." (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p 51)
Discouraged, tired, concerned... The Farmer lowers his head in prayer...he thanks God....he reads Scripture.

I "know" the fatigue, the worry, the frustration of what the Farmer was experiencing with his livestock, and I know those same feelings of helplessness are experienced by many as they face their Giants on the battlefield of life.  [I preached on David and Goliath yesterday ; ) ]

I know this fatigue, and I am sorry to admit that all to often, in the beginning of the battle, the Giant controls me, becomes my center, before I eventually fall to my knees. What I am reading is that the Farmer, regardless of his work load...sits down, prays, and read scripture...daily.  It is part of who he is... As I preached a few weeks ago from Colossians 3...God is not a component of the Voskamp household, God is their life.  And I do believe that when I get this truth....I will stay centered amidst the Giants.

But! Continuing with Ann....One evening the Farmer rushes in early, sits down at the computer...later Ann learns that he thinks he knows the disease/problem/Giant that is stealing life from his livestock.
"'If that's'...I point to the screen, to that name too long to pronounce. 'If that's really whats going on out in the barn, are you OK?'" (Voskamp, p 52)
The Farmer replied:
"'Yes...and no. I don't like what it is, or that it looks like it's nearly impossible to eradicate, but you know what?...I'm strangely happy...God's good. Just naming it..When you don't have the name for something, you're haunted by shadows. It ages you.'" Ibid
Not long ago I shared with my mom how being able to "name" something gives one power.  It doesn't change the circumstances, but now you have a name for that Giant.

I had to read Ann's sentence a few times before her insight began to sink in:
"Naming is Edenic...The first man's task is to name...When I name moments - string out laundry and name-pray, 'than You, Lord, for bedsheets in billowing winds, for fluff of a sparrow landing on line, sun winter warm, and one last leaf still hanging in the orchard - I am Adam and I discover my meaning and God's and to name is to learn the language of Paradise...Naming to find an identity, our identity, God's. (Voskamp, p 53)
Again, from Alexander Schmemann:
Now, in the Bible a name...reveals the very essence of a thing, or rather its essence as God's gift...To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it, to know it is coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God. To name a thing, in other word, is to bless God for it and in it.
Ummm, yesterday I reminded the congregation that when David ran up to Goliath, God was the midst.

God is the midst...God is....
This naming really does call now a gift, a gift of God...I look at a day, a thing, an event in front of me, and it may look manna-strange: 'What is it?' But when I name it, the naming of it manifest its meaning: to know it comes from God. This is gift! Naming is to know a things function in the cosmos - to name is to solve mystery.  Ibid
I wonder where Ann will go with this insight within dark Gratitude...hard Eucharisteo?

Honestly, I do not want to think about a "dark thing" coming from God....having a place and function in the cosmos created by God.

Ann finishes this section writing:
In naming that which is right before me, that which I'd otherwise miss, the invisible becomes visible. The space that spans my inner emptiness fills in the naming. I name. and I know the face I face. 
God's! God is in the details; God is in the moment. God is in all that blurs by in a life - even hurts in a life.

My beginning efforts of naming moments, even though they seem trivial and small may change the ugly names I mindlessly attach to what I see.

Paul in Colossians 3:2, not denying my reality,  reminds me to look up to a greater reality!

And when I look up, the Giant does not disappear, but through the Holy Spirit, I may be able to see God within the space of the Giant...and I may be able to name it differently.  I may be able to name from a place of wholeness rather than fear of the unknown.

Just as there is power in naming a dark mystery, there is power in being present to the mystery that surrounds me in ordinary moments.  There is power in naming that which is around me...because when I do this....I encounter God!

I encounter God when I name the gifts within my ordinary moments.

Being faithful to this discipline of naming...strengthens my heart, giving me courage, allowing me to live within a place of trust....


If I write this as being true, then why am I not cracking open my book to begin?

Come on  San..."practice what you preach!"  "Walk the talk"....all those cliches have meaning in their truth...."become the sermon"...  God, send your Spirit down upon me, helping me to begin this journey in earnest...not just reading and journalling "about" this naming of me to identify what keeps me from taking my first name what keeps me from picking up my journal...and to then run toward it with courage and trust in you...

Many Blessings ~ Sandi


  1. Hi Sandi, good morning to you. thanks for sharing the beautiful video - How Great Thou Art was my father's favorite hymn. it always brings a tear to my eye when it's chosen as one of the songs for church service. you've made me feel really good on this Monday morning. thanks for that. and a happy week to you.

  2. You always challenge me, Sandi. Thank you. blessings ~ tanna

  3. Happy Monday to you Sandi. Wishing you a joyful and productive week. :)