Tuesday, August 12, 2008
names and new beginnings
I am feeling so strange right now.
A while back, I started thinking about my name. Mary Joanna. Mom told me a long time ago that my first and middle names were carefully chosen for me, her first daughter. Mary for Mary Magdalene, Joanna for my great aunt, a woman very much admired by Mom. Joanna is also a biblical name. Both Mary and Joanna were once lost and sorrowful women. Both had been healed by the Savior. (Luke 8.) Both gave up everything to travel with Him during his ministry. Both were there at Calvary. Both were at Joseph’s tomb. Mary was the very first to see Him following his resurrection. Both of them saw the Risen Lord and spoke with Him. (Luke 24:10.) When I think about this, I feel pretty humbled. These are my foremothers. I bear their names.
Helaman had two sons, which he named Lehi and Nephi. Lehi and Nephi were revered ancestors of Helaman, and deeply loved. Helaman told his sons, “when you remember your names ye may remember them...their works...they they were good.” He named them in hopes that they would remember their fathers, and “that [they] should also do that which is good, that it may be said of [them]...even as it ha[d] been said...” of their forebears. (Helaman 5:6-7, Book of Mormon.)
In Hebrew, Mary means “sea of bitterness.” When I read that I felt vindicated on so many levels. Likewise for the second Hebrew meaning cited: “wished for child.” Also true. I took a slight pause though when I found the Egyptian root for Mary, “mry” means “beloved” or mr, meaning “love.” That was nice. Joanna in Hebrew means “god is gracious.”
I’m grateful to finally recognize that embedded in my very own name are the two most prominent of Christ’s characteristics: love and grace. Mary (Love) Joanna (Grace). I wish I would remember always that my name beckons me to always remember Him, His works, and how good indeed they were. Likewise for Mary and Joanna, how strong, how faithful and vibrant they must have been, how devoted they were to their Redeemer. Wouldn’t it make for a glorious life mission to live such that it might be said of me what has been said of them? Tall order, but one to die trying for.
A few months ago, I called up Mom to thank her for my name. I think she thought I was drunk or something. But I really did want to thank her. I had not realized just how precious and beautiful my name was until this year. She needed some gratitude paid for that. Thanks, Mama.
In 2005 when I started this blog, I assigned it the URL, maryjoanna.blogspot.com Lately, the cobwebs have been collecting on this specimen of online journaling. I’m moving out of Boston, to a new town and a new life. I think this calls for a new blog as well. I’m not sure yet what to name it. Joanna Mary perhaps? If I have any readers left, please stay tuned. A new link, a new blog, and a new life will be posted hopefully soon.
I really wish you the best - love and happiness!
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