From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:
The name’s the thing–
the precious thing that’s mine alone.
Some stories tell of Adam
naming animals with such humor
and caprice that we are made to laugh
and as young children we named toys,
then pets, and some of us kept genealogy
of all the living creatures that came
to love us in our youth.
We named our playmates, imaginary though they were,
and those of us with great imaginations
even gave ourselves new names and then designed the tales
to prove that those names were most real.
But Kunta Kinte brought to us a new reality
in the giving of our names. Was he named
by splendid universe or great ruler thereof
or was he named in presence of and introduced
at once to all the galaxies beyond?
No matter. Perhaps both. Whatever happened
as we read or witnessed it on film,
and witnessed, too, the naming of the
families of slaves descended from this one,
we learned to longer look at naming
and the phenomenon
it truly is.
How many names do we possess?
And have we named ourselves as we
were wont to do?
And have we understood the family
of names passed down to us from all
ancestors who lived before and wove their
lives into peculiar branches that are ours?
And naming of ourselves–how often and deliberately
have we bestowed upon ourselves
appropriate appellations reckoned
by a quickened self-disclosure?
How often have we let the voice
of God break through the towers of babbling names
in order to proclaim again–or for the first time
to our sometimes deafened ear
our holy name of well belov-ed only child?