Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It's different when you know his name...

I've always been fascinated with names. The meanings of names... Why people choose to be called by a middle name or nickname rather than their given name... The old hymn tells us that, when we're saved, there's a "new name written down in glory" for each of us, and I think this just emphasizes the natural feeling that a name has more meaning than just a word. A name infers knowledge. The more intimate you are with a person, the more "names" you know. As in, "Why, there's my old college roommate Sally Smith. I called her Snatch," said with a smile of remembrance.

The same is true even in the lowest levels of society. Maybe it's even more true. We all "know" enough of the inner details of the lives of a "Beyonce" or "Brittany," to call these strangers by their first names. But for the men and women living on the street it's "the guy with the bushy hair," or "the lady who always waves when she walks by the window."

If we take the time to ask their name, it shows that we see them as more than just faces waiting in line. They are individuals, with stories and lives separate and unique from our own.

Your attitude changes too, when you know a person's name. They do become less of a "face" and more of a person.

"Oh, there goes Joey!" We say, as we see him on the street. And we care when he's not there and wonder if he's okay.

I think back to around the new year, when a woman stopped at our door. She was angry and agitated, insisting that we were encouraging men not to work by giving them clothing and shelter without making them do something to earn our services. But she wasn't around when, a few weeks later, several of those same men walked across the street to help a driver whose car was stuck in the snow. They weren't asked; they saw the need and went to help. I doubt they asked for anything in return either. Just gave the driver a wave and watched the car on its way.

I wonder if the driver asked their names to thank them. I doubt very much that the angry woman had asked their names. Praise God that, in spite of the flaws and failings of our compassion, there is Someone who will never forget...their names.

No comments: