I’ve just been looking at the story behind my name Peter, and all the connotations of it. Names are indeed compressed stories, myths in fact. All my life I have been Peter – named after the troubled disciple of Jesus who was a fisherman, who claimed he would never desert Jesus but famously denied him three times out of fear in the house of Caiaphas the high priest when Jesus was about to be tried…. And Peter means ‘rock’ – on which Jesus said he’d build his church. Etc. It ties in with the pre-Christian history of the name – a Petra was a standing stand, a threshold stone, etc. Associated with gates, keys, and roosters ushering in the dawn… I realized most of my life has been about being stopped at various thresholds, especially at the gates of the high priests of culture – art dealers, teachers and lecturers, editors… They all stopped me when I came to them, and I denied my own calling rather than negotiate with them – or overcome them. Hmm… ‘Peter’ as me.
I’ve been wrestling with this lately. Anne Hamilton who wrote a book called ‘God’s Poetry – The Identity and destiny encoded in your name’ triggered it. Just this week I thought ‘What about my second name and also the name my mother nearly called me until I was born and she changed her mind?’ I thought, ‘Maybe I can let those names tell a story that gives me power to go through the thresholds that stopped Peter-as-me?’ So James = Yamin, the Right Hand or sword arm – power, and also right hand man. All good for beingpowerful and going though with things, instead of ‘petering out’ at or just through the threshold. Then, the name my mother nearly called me: Timothy. Honouring God (or, Honoured by God). This is a simple calm powerful name for someone who really wants to go to the higher levels and meditate on the Name – the concept and nature of – God, or the eternal Transendental Order behind all transitory things. It felt great to add this name to my self-story. No more being stuck with Peter in the courtyard of Caiaphas!
Hope this makes sense. What lies behind your name? What could you add to it and live into? Maybe the answer is in your second third or other names… Maybe also in your nicknames. Or maybe those are what are actually stopping you.
Whatever you do, don’t think a rose by any other name… A name is a story, and stories are what we live by.