A New Name
For the past week, I’ve been asking myself what’s in a name?
My given name is Robin. For the longest time, that is who I thought I was—Robin. My name provided a sense of family identity and belonging; it defined who I was and where I belonged; it established me as an identifiable human being. But the more I thought about me and my name, the more I realized my name has nothing to do with who I am, let alone who I am preparing to be.
Who I am preparing to be. Isn’t that a fabulous way to look growth? Not “who I am becoming,” which now sounds so random, but “who I am preparing to be,” which comparatively sounds more intentional.
I was reading Threads of Awakening: An American Woman’s Journey into Tibet’s Sacred Textile Art by Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo when I began questioning my name. The author took part in the Buddhist Refuge Ceremony where the presiding Lama gave her a new name. The Lama chose Rinchen Wongmo, meaning “Precious Initiate” in Tibetan.
Precious Initiate. Now that is a name with can-do and inspiring hutzpah!
Which was exactly the point Rinchen-Wongmo was making. Her new name reminds her of the rare opportunity she has in this life, which got me thinking about names in general and mine specifically. If I could be renamed with a name that would remind me of the rare opportunity I have in this life, what would it be?
This simple question turned out to be a lot more difficult to answer that I anticipated. What was my rare opportunity in this life, and what resources do I bring to the life I am preparing for?
At first, I identified the skills I thought I would need to conquer life going forward. After a while, I realized that by stating the question this way, I wasn’t going to get anywhere close to a new name. I’ll save you all the permutations and combinations, but they were dreadful. But when I took Soren Kierkegaard’s advice from last week’s blog post, and tried to understand my life by looking at it backwards, that I was able to finally discern my greatest resource.
This is my new name translated into Tibetan by a free on-line translation service. Wicked right?
Now I know what you are thinking, and yes, I have seen the social media posts about the Asian symbols that people get tattooed on their bodies thinking they mean one thing (like courage) only to find out they really mean something else (like broccoli). But I knew it was meant to be the moment I saw the bird-like accent above what I think is the 11th character. I am not going to go crazy with this, I just think it’s cool, and empowering, and renewing.
To get my new name, I looked back over my life and made a list of all of the qualities that got me out of every dead end I hit, eased every mistake I made, got me up every time I fell down, soothed my soul every time I failed, made me laugh when I thought there was no hope, lit the way when the darkness closed in, provided the resolve to sally forth when it got hard and I wanted to quit, quieted my mind when life got too loud, lessened the pain when I was hurt, help me to breathe when I thought all was lost, and illuminated my celebrations when I got it right.
It has been with me for as long as I can remember, and I knew it to be true the first time I sang about it in first grade Sunday school:
“This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. This little light of mine …”
My new name—Indistinguishable Light.
For no matter what happens to me, the light is always there with me. Nothing has ever been able to dampen or extinguish it. The light has always been there with me, able to rekindle itself. Going forward, knowing that I have an indistinguishable light gives me all I need to prepare for becoming myself.
This morning I realize I have held my greatest resource in prayer for years:
May I be at peace.
May my heart remain open.
May I awaken the light of my one true nature.
May I be healed.
May I be a source of healing for others.
May we all awaken to the light of our greatest opportunity in this life.
—Indistinguishable Light (aka Robin)