In the continuing series of reflections from members of the MHGS community as MHGS begins the process of changing its name to The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, MDiv alumnus Ronna Detrick poetically engages the power of naming.
Not so long ago, a group of wizened and courageous souls sat around the modern-day version of a fire, its embers glowing late into the night, and dreamed up a vision, an experience, a place. They consciously named it – with intentional meaning and substance; a conscious act. Mars Hill Graduate School.
Simultaneously, as sparks flew upward into that vast night’s sky, as they imagined, conjured, and created, a space for unconscious naming was nurtured, womb-like, only to one day (and every day) be birthed with piercing, glorious cries. Then, now, and always – within those walls and as far as sparks can fly – that naming continues. We name struggle. We name pain. We name desire. We name hope. We name ambivalence. We name doubt. We name faith.
And most of all – consciously, unconsciously, out loud, and in whispers so soft only one’s heart can hear – we name truth.
Powerful, unconscious naming will continue; not determined or quelled by the conscious, spoken name. Names will be uttered, palpably felt, and lived by more wizened and courageous souls right alongside the beautifully naïve and dangerous ones. They will be spoken around fires, coffee, beer, textbooks, journals, laptops, accreditation reports, spreadsheets, client files, scripture, theology texts, David Schnarch, YouTube, and Google.
As sparks fly upward, names constantly form, swirl, coalesce, and descend. We are touched by their meaning, their weight, their grace. And then we are re-named, like a brand, a tattoo, or maybe even a tiny bit of fire that shockingly alights on our skin. Slightly painful. Leaving its mark. Changing everything.