November – From the Minister

I am terrible at remembering people’s names. When I first meet someone, I try and try, I know all the tricks, but until I see their name and their face and put the two together several times, I am likely to forget. The name. Not the person. Because I am actually really good at faces. Once I’ve seen someone and spoken with them, once I’ve noticed something significant about you, I will remember you. If you show me a piece of yourself, I will remember you.

It’s one of the complexities of work like mine, relational work, where what matters is how you know people, and how they know you. I want to know the deep stories that make up your identity. And I forget your name, one of the basic identifiers of you. And that’s how it can be with Identity. We can know each other’s stories, we can share our deepest parts, and still not quite remember some basic facts.

Identity is both the name tag that you wear (or forget at home) and your face, both the story of the name that was given to you, and the deeper, even more meaningful stories you tell about yourself. It’s more than one thing. It’s not even static—identity shifts and changes as we grow, as we change. The sculpture of our identity gets uncovered more and more as the chisel of life chips away the unnecessary stone around the internal structures. As we learn, as we meet people and love them, get our hearts broken open, as we find ourselves dropped from great heights, and held by warm and loving hands, we shape and share our identities.

Our name, the most basic identifier of us—the two or three or more words that help us distinguish who is who—our name is not the totality of our identity, nor should it be. But it is significant and holy. And I will remember it better if you wear your name tag.

-Rev. Sara Goodman