Friday, July 26, 2013

7/7: Day 5, or What's in a name?

Today is the feast day of St. Anne, (and also that of St. Joachim who also is celebrated today), mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, grandmother to Jesus. Perhaps because I was given her name, I've always had a devotion to St. Anne, and ask for her intercession often, I had several friends wish me a happy feast day on Facebook today, which was awesome.

According to Wikipedia (which is, of course, never wrong, lol), “Anne, alternatively spelled Ane or Ann, is a form of the Latin female given name Anna. This in turn is a representation of the Hebrew Hannah or Hanani, meaning 'He (God) has favored me', the name of the mother of the prophet Samuel.” It also means graceful, I've been told.

When I think of grace, my mind automatically begins, “Hail, May, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee.” St. Anne was the mother of Mary, and therefore was, when pregnant with the Blessed Virgin, literally full of grace herself.

I think, too, especially when considering the Old Testament story of Hannah, that (in one of those Old Testament/New Testament correlations) both she and St. Anne were older, essentially beyond childbearing years, when they bore their children, gifts from God. I, who am as yet unmarried, wonder if I, too, will be “old” when I have my children (I certainly would have been considered such in Biblical times, or even in the 1940s, a woman doomed to spinsterhood), should I be so blessed as to marry as I feel God is calling me. But I suppose their fate also should give me hope, in the sense that I too may one day be blessed as they were, that my prayers will also be answered, my patience rewarded. A friend told me once on a retreat that God never withholds His blessings. :)

There is a strength in waiting, a grace and favor to accepting where God has me. A hopefulness in trusting in His plan, His timing, which are so much more knowledgeable than my own human plans.

Anne is actually (full disclosure time), my middle name, although I have never been called by my first name except by teachers who didn't know better. My first name is Laurel, a name which is derived from the laurel tree. In a way, and I've never thought about it before, my two names go well together (not just in flow), but in that trees, and the wood of the laurel tree especially, is strong, a hard wood that is not easily chopped down. Trees also bend with the wind (provided the wind isn't of hurricane strength), with change. In ancient Greece and Rome, victors were crowned with wreaths of laurel leaves. 

People have often thought I don't like my first name, but that isn't true. It's a beautiful name, but my parents simply have never called me Laurel a day in my life. Anne was a long-standing choice, but with an Anne Marie already in the family, and my parents unwilling to duplicate, Laurel was the last-minute addition. For what it's worth, no one thinks I “look like” a Laurel, but everyone thinks I do “look like” an Anne.

I was named for my great-aunt Anna Kroner, my great-great aunt actually, my great-grandmother's sister. I remember meeting her as a child, once sitting by her feet on a front porch in Illinois during a summer visit. She was rather curmudgeonly, although she and my dad were always close. She was a nurse in the 20s and 30s, and, depending on which family story to believe, she either A) could never find a man who was good enough to meet her highly exacting standards, or B) the man she loved broke her heart and she never got over it.

It must run in the family, those  incredibly high standards. I have them, too, I have been incredibly fortunate, however, in that my heart has never truly been broken. Which is a grace unto it self and a way I have been favored indeed.

Graceful. Grace-filled. Moving with elegance and refinement and rhythm, like a waltz. I love to waltz. There is joy in the three-beat cadence, the gentle quarter-step swings to the beat, but I haven't waltzed in years, other than the occasional, solitary turn around my living room. There is a longing to be dancing in a sumptuous dress – I have dreamt of it – like classic Hollywood actresses, women who seemed the epitome of class, there on the black-and-white-screen. I am a romantic, and hope for that, too. 

Anne Elliot, the heroine in Jane Austen's final novel, "Persuasion," was also older, but capable, sensible and a romantic as well. A literary creation who loves her family despite their foibles, and another Anne who patiently waited, trusting and receiving her heart's desire in the end.    

The literary Anne Shirley, of L.M. Montgomery's “Anne of Green Gables,” thought her name to be very unromantic. I am not of that mind, but we are in agreement about one thing:

“...if you call me Anne please call me Anne spelled with an E.’
What difference does it make how it’s spelled?’ asked
Marilla with another rusty smile as she picked up the teapot.
Oh, it makes SUCH a difference. It LOOKS so much
nicer. When you hear a name pronounced can’t you always
see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can; and
A-n-n looks dreadful, but A-n-n-e looks so much more distinguished.
If you’ll only call me Anne spelled with an E.”

No comments: