I'm not sure where to post this, but this may be a good fit.
This was originally written for FB. I took it down rather quickly because a couple of non-Christian people in my family took offense.
I'd like to get some responses from people willing to read it through. Was it out of place on FB?
I have changed all the names, BTW.
My name is Mortimer. It has been since 1952, when my parents, Mark and Martha, gave it to me. I never liked the name. It was old fashioned, cryptic, belonging with some ancient Scandinavian ancestor who should have taken it to his grave in a bloody 15th century battle. Surely Mark and Martha had given it to me as some form of punishment for a wrong I had no power to right. John, Mike, and Sue, yes…the names of my siblings, proof that our parents truly possessed eponymic awareness…but Mortimer, why? 350 some graduates in my high school class, and only one with this name. Surely, whatever County recorder of documents walked into the hospital on that fateful day must have asked “Are you sure?” and “How does one spell that?” Surely help would come at last in 1964 with the move-in of the parents of Mortimer Jones to my neighborhood, who played for the WSU Shockers, down the bench from Stallworth and Bowman, attaching acclaim to the beleaguered name. But alas, as sports history and neighborhood dynamics unfurled, it was not to be!
It is now the year 2020. I have long since given up the emotional battles related to my name, not by way of resignation, but to the greater reward of living life as a continual mystery to be revealed, letting maturity open little doors, drawers, and windows: a maturity, by the way, that is given only to those who live by faith in the great God of the universe. It is that God’s prescient power that gives life to the moment, to each moment of each day. It is by His gift that anyone, faced with disturbances similar to mine, can agree with the sentiment of Moses, “we spend our years as a tale that is told.” (Or did he say “we complete our years like a sigh”? I will leave that to the language scholar. Actually, either fits the premise of my life’s journey.)
Memory of the “cocoon” reoccurred very early this morning while seated on my deck. Surrounded by darkness, moderate cold, and clouds, I was enveloped in a comfortable blanket, peering across the landscape of trees bowing in the extreme wind, while meditating on the grace of God and entreating His favorable presence. It may be—probably is—that the comfort of the blanket, associated with the ever-present security of God’s work in my life, is somehow associated with the “cocoon.”
My mother and father were born and reared in county seat towns of adjacent counties of western Kansas. Their times were hard: dust bowls, Depression, scarcely one generation removed from Indian Wars, prairie fires, the opening of the West with the Iron Horse, gunslingers, Civil War holdovers of the Carpetbagger and malcontents. Present in those days (never not-present) was also the Spirit of God.
God was at work in the life of my maternal grandfather, whom I was never favored to meet, as he died of scarlet fever when my mother was just coming of age. Born to an apparently happy couple, my mother was favored with comfort in her early years, as witnessed by at least one little family eccentricity, the “cocoon.” In this nighttime ritual the child is rolled over to the side and tucked into a blanket full-length. He is then rolled to the opposite side, tucked and gently brought back, thus loosely and affectionately coming into metamorphosis, or cocoon. A radiating sense of parental love is present. If parents are believers who communicate God’s truth to their children, the mystery of divine comfort is almost assured.
Did this little ritual originate with my grandfather, or was he a recipient from some former generation? As I passed it on to my daughters and son, did it end with them, or will it ramify future family members? To me as a person, such questions do not stand alone. The ritual actually had the power to assure me that the name “Mortimer” was not an insidious attack by parents who harbored hate. Further, that despite all their foibles, I can now see that they did clearly love me.
Questions of God’s presence, goodness, and grace are ultimately most important. That is so because some who read this little piece may actually have had parents (or a parent) whose caustic abuse is not a pattern for the love of God. If that is the case with you, please find comfort in the reassurance that the Heavenly Father cares for and loves you with a perfect love, despite wrongs that have been perpetrated against you.
Further, there are the questions of how willing I am to help make known the love of God, which the Scriptures declare is “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit”. My mother’s “cocoon” from some sixty years ago felt so much like today’s warming, illuminating presence of God that I thought it was worth sharing.