The Power in a Name

Last week, I attended a beautiful Celebration of Life service for a fellow musician. It was a lovely service and celebration afterwards, with stories, Irish dancing, singing, tears and laughter. One resonating theme throughout the celebration was how Jean remembered nearly everyone she ever met. It was the first thing many people brought up. Not only that, whenever she saw you, she'd say your name with such joy that you couldn't help but feel good .

It kind of reminds me of something I read about the care that the Japanese take when exchanging business cards. A Japanese person will present their business card to you with a bow. You are to accept it in both hands with a bow and take the time to read both sides of the card. The little ceremony makes the whole exchanging of business information rather intimate.

Jean's knack for remembering names also reminds me of one of my favourite anime, Natsume Yuujinchou (Natsume's Book of Friends). Natsume is a high-school student who can see spirits. He inherited the Book of Friends from the grandmother (Reiko) he never knew. She "befriended" many spirits in her day and made them sign her Book of Friends.

Unlike signing a guest book, these spirits essentially formed a contract with Natsume's grandmother. They were bound to Reiko's beck and call until she released them. The thing is, she died young so now the spirits are hounding Natsume as her descendant, to free them by returning their names to them.

What's the real power in a name? Well, once we sign on the dotted line on a contract, we are bound, just like the spirits in the Book of Friends.

There is power in a name. People have performed great works in the name of God. Unfortunately, people have also performed despicable acts in the name of God. In both cases, the consequences can be small to life-changing.

At our base, our name is a part of our identity. At the mention of Jean's name, I see her twinkling eyes and hear the joy in her voice whenever she greeted me (usually accompanied by a big hug). It's the same with anyone who touches your life, for better or for worse.

I will miss the way Jean would light up whenever she said someone's name. In her name, I will try to work on my short-term memory more so that I too, can remember people's names and share the same joy and love that Jean exuded whenever she said my name.