While many people do not think much about languages or how people, places, and objects received their names or designations, the act of identifying or naming is powerful. Names, like labels, can carry imagery, history, hope, aspirations, and linkages to the past such as key events or significant relationships. Over time, names become part of our embedded culture and identity with very little thought to the reasons why that name was given. German immigrants name New Braunfels after Braunfels, Germany which they still maintain a relationship. Baton Rouge (“red stick”), LA was named by Sieur d’Iberville after seeing a cypress stick stain in blood on the Mississippi River bluff denoting a dividing line for hunting between two native groups. Waco, Texas received its name from the native tribe of Waco people, which were a subgroup of the Wichita culture. Slumber Falls Camp, named after the slumbering waterfalls and popular hang out in the late nineteenth century, also have connections to the Waco tribes, though the spelling was hispanized to Huaca reflecting the Spanish influence in the region.
These toponyms embody a rich history and allude to more complex relationships. Our names also hold a great deal of significance, especially for the ones naming us and the community in which we are claimed and loved. For many of us, this name will last a lifetime, while others may take on new names on their journey as a result of changing relationships with others or even themselves. Naming and claiming of names as they reflect our identity aligns our inner spirit with our own parameters for engaging the world. Names are personal, yet they also carry our “brand” into the world. Names can elicit strong feelings and responses when names are spoken such as Mother Theresa, Adolph Hitler, Christopher Columbus, or Jesus of Nazareth. Our names carry our ideals and values, but what happens when our names do not elicit any reaction? Even Jesus’ teachings received hate and assassination attempts (Mark 11:15-18). As Christians or people following in the footsteps of Jesus, are we making a name for ourselves that reflect our values of spreading God’s unconditional love, creating a just world, and building a genuine concern and advocacy for all of creation?
In some ways, building names seems super easy with social media and fast communication; however, it seems that much of the “news” or recognition is not always grounded in the truth, naming is imposed by others, and the complexity of the individual or situation is minimized. People are quickly forgotten as the next new and interesting topic emerges. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does beg the question on our motivations and what drives us. Is our end destination of our faith journey set by us or something greater? Do we champion justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God as the prophet Micah claims? How much of life do we have to figure out in order to live out our faith? Can we learn to live with ambiguity or uncertainty? If so, what message will our names carry as People of the Way or children of God? I believe that we can be real, live authentic lives, and embody the gospel message in all we do. Our daily walk is our prayer, our response of gratitude, and a reflection of a beautiful and vibrant relationship with God and the whole of creation.
I am excited about this summer and our theme, “What’s in a Name.” Campers will explore the incredible world God has created and continues to shape, and they will explore their own identity and see the divine beauty within them. Slumber Falls Camp continues to focus on spiritual relationships and building an intentional Christian community that models what the world can become if we put in the effort, take the risks, and are willing to put our names out their as change agents for God bringing people and creation together. I enjoy history not only for the stories, but for the lessons I learn. I would love to hear more about your stories, family names, and who God is calling you to become!
See you at the Falls!
Blessings and Peace,