Monday, August 27, 2007

A New Name by Graham Plaster

Tonight we went for another family walk, down to the basketball court by the Goat Island bridge. It was spectacular. The sun was waning, casting that glow of nostalgia across the kids faces that evokes so many feelings of childhood in me. I had brought a soccer ball for the kids and a basketball too, which feels so natural in my hands, despite it being over 10 years since I played on a team. I rolled the ball to my son, Ransom, who is now almost 11 months old. While sitting, he picked it up with both hands over his head and opened his mouth wide as if to shout some triumphant word, but the only sound was the glorious beat of his toothy, infant smile. He bounced the ball on the grass once, watching it roll away from him and then leaned forward, easilly transitioning into a crawl after the ball. Fast break. I watched the game, enthralled. I called, "Ransom...Ransom." I was right behind him, but it seemed as if he hadn't heard me. He was looking at the ball. When he finally responded to my voice by turning back towards me on his haunches, he had to squint. The sun was behind me. He smiled and then turned back towards the ball. I heard my voice in my own ears, "Ransom...Ransom." I felt as though I was hearing my own name called by God and thought how natural and yet new it would seem to hear his voice call me in the same way. Would I turn immediately or would I remain entranced by the world, that fascinating ball that spins before my eyes. Would he call me Graham, or would he rename me, like so many of his friends in history? What would my new name mean to Him? What would it sound like on His tongue? It is not so much the combination of consonants, vowels and syllabals that my son recognizes as his name. It is my voice - which is a much more complex and intimate signature of our relationship really. At this stage in his development, there are a lot of words that I could say to him that would have about the same meaning as his name: "turn around and look at me". Maybe this is one of the things Jesus meant when he said we had to have faith like a child. When we hear his voice, no matter if if takes the form we expect, he is hoping we will turn, smile and respond.I know that Ransom is too young to remember this day. Perhaps I will lose it too as a distinct memory, and it will be folded into the mental scrapbook of holy moments - epiphanies and exquisite beauties. On second thought, those are the moments of my life that I remember most clearly. The moments when something truly real broke through the facade and I was made aware of the superficiality of certain other things. The moments when I heard His voice, turned and smiled.

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