The Benedictine tradition and practice of divine reading made accessible for everyone.
Chapter 1Little-Great-One, Come Home
A name is a precious gift. It is something to be lived into. It is someone to come home to. Your name is a word filled with the power of you. Call people by name shortly after you've met them and see how they come alive. Being able to name something or someone gives you a certain power and responsibility for it, for him, for her. Being able to name the ache in your fife gives you power over that ache. Being able to name a fear in your life gives you power over the fear. Claiming and naming is part of life's experience.
The name you are given at baptism is a Word of God that you grow into. As your life unfolds you give new meaning to that name. It becomes yours more fully. It becomes you.
Sometimes we are given a new name to celebrate a can to a more radical way of life. The new name is a reminder of the new person we are to become. Abram becomes Abraham. Jacob becomes Israel. Saul becomes Paul. Martha Ann becomes Macrina.
Sometimes, by chance or by grace, we stumble upon a new name. It comes to us out of our life's experience. It is a name known only to us who receive it. In this book I am giving you a new name. Your new name comes out of my search for the meaning of my own name.
Recently I asked someone who knows Greek to search out the meaning of the name Macrina. He wrote back to tell me he had not been all that successful. He wasn't sure about my name. He thought the first part of the name meant great; and ina being a term of endearment, he came up with Little-Great-One. As I read those words, Little-Great-One, something clicked inside me. Like a flash of lightning it came to me: That's everybody's name! That's the answer to our lostidentity. We are
... God's "anawim" of the Old Testament (Zeph. 3:12-20)
... the beloved, enfolded ones of the book of Hosea (Hos. 11:3-5)
... poor storm-tossed creatures, yet precious stones (Isa. 54:11-12)
... the poor little blessed ones of the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:1-11)
... earthenware jars filled with a treasure (2 Cor. 4:7)
... those who have nothing, yet possess everything (2 Cor. 6:10).
That's us! Little-Great-Ones!
The tragedy is that we keep forgetting the second part of our name, the great and glorious, precious stone part. As I was pondering this theme of littleness and greatness I suddenly remembered that my last name, Wiederkehr, means return again. In an instant my heart became full of prayer. It was as though God started praying within me, "Little-Great-One, come home."
"Home!" Come home! Does not this ache that refuses to leave our hearts want to remind us that we are not yet at home? What gifts do we possess to help us on this homeward journey except our littleness and our greatness, our frailty and our splendor, our poverty and our wealth, our new name, lived out. LittleGreat-One, come home.
What is home but that place where your name becomes precious, the place where your name finds its power? You find power when you are at home because it is there that you are loved, cherished, and accepted just as you are, with all your frailty, fears, and flaws. It is there in that lovely dwelling place called home that you discover you don't have to be perfect to be loved. There, at home, you are able to embrace the truth that it's part of your Iife's journey to be in process. You don't have
to be finished to be good. You don't have to be finished to see yoursplendor.
What is home but that place where forgiveness stands at the door, peers out the window, and rushes down the steps to meet you? You may be thinking, "I've never felt that kind of home." Well, neither have I, but I've experienced enough of home's moments to know that it's possible. It takes a lot of the real presence of "being there" to feel at home; sadly, many of us seldom feel at home.
The call from God is to come home, to embrace both our littleness and our greatness and come home. Come home to our families, our friends, our church, our selves, our God.
Where are the places you feel at home? Have you ever really felt at home? Do you ever feel like running away from home? Have you ever heard a call from deep within to come back home?
Running away from home is not all that uncommon. Sometimes we run away from home without leaving. We just conveniently aren't there for others. It hurts too much to be there and so we disappear. It is easy to disappear. Disappearing is what makes home so hard to find. People do it all the time. We disappear because we are uncomfortable with being in process.
Since I do not remember the home of my mother's womb, my first conscious home was the family into which I was born. That home was my first place of formation. I have cherished memories of my parents, brothers and sisters, the country, gardens, pine trees, grape vineyards, homemade bread and wine, poverty, faith, God, Sunday afternoons. It was not a home where I received everything I needed, but it was enough to get me started.
While I was living in this home I didn't understand it very well. It often takes a backward, reflective glance to understand the depths of things. It iscatching up to me a little more each day, this first home of mine, and I am becoming aware of all the little ways I ran away from that home even while living in it. I disappeared a lot as a child.
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Includes bibliographical references.
Macrina Wiederkehr, O.S.B., is a member of St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, AR. She directs retreats and workshops throughout the United States and is the author of A Tree Full of Angels and Seasons of Your Heart.