Friday, December 12, 2014

Names

(A Light Descended, by Jon Adams)

I had a positive experience in the temple that has stayed with me over the years and even if I never return to the temple again I imagine I will never forget it.

In 2009, my husband and I made an earnest effort to attend the temple on a regular basis. We went at least once a month, if not more, for the entire year. This was substantial for us considering we had a young child and the closest temple was an hour away.

I don’t know why this particular session seemed different than all the others, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the woman I was standing proxy for. I imagined what her life was like being a woman in England the late 1800’s. Did she have a happy life? Did she ever feel oppressed? What kind of trials did she face? During the session I looked down at the small pink card in my hand unable to focus on anything but her.

Her name was fixed in my mind. Was her last name her father’s or her husband’s? Did she have a good father like mine? Did she marry a kind man like my husband? Did they love her and treat her well? What last name did her children bear, because I’m pretty sure it wasn’t hers? Our names and identification are dictated by the men in our lives. Did she have anything in her life that was actually hers? Did she have an identity beyond the men and children in her life?

I felt connected to this woman. I sympathized with her, or perhaps that day sitting in the temple she was the one sympathizing with me. Her first name was the only thing I knew about her that was actually hers, and it saddened me to think that it died with her. She deserved more than that.

She had such a lovely name, Elizabeth.