Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Name

Emma and Aidan

or more accurately Emmaline Eowyn and Aidan Elessar

We now have two children whose first names at least top the trendy popular baby name lists these days. I'm not one for trends generally and it would probably be false to say our name choices were not influenced by the ethos of our culture, but these have been our top name choices since shortly after we were married over eight years ago. One of my favorite literature professors at Wheaton had a little girl named Emma who came along on our Wheaton in England trip and I think I fell in love with that name then. Mike and I both love the story of St. Aidan - the Irish monk who brought Christianity to Northern England. Where other missionary monks had failed in attempts at conversion by persuasion, Aidan succeeded by befriending and serving those around him. We visited the holy isle of Lindisfarne (where Aidan's monastery was) on our honeymoon. But I think it was after we both read Stephen Lawhead's book Byzantium about an Irish monk (named Aidan) journey to (you guessed it) Byzantium and his parallel faith journey that we discussed how much we liked the name (the book is a good read btw). So the first names were chosen long before we had kids.

Aidan literally means "little fiery one" and is a diminutive of Aodh - the Celtic Sun god 9hence the fire part). If this baby had been a girl, we were learning towards the name Rhiannon - the Welsh Moon goddess. So early on we told people that the baby would be named after a pagan deity. Yes, we are weird like that. But given how active Aidan was in the womb (and now) "fiery one" seems fitting.

Then there's the Lord of the Rings middle names. With Emma, we wanted her to have the name of a strong female. Eowyn's desire to make a significant impact on her world led us to give her name to Emma. With Aidan we went with another LOTR name. If you did't know, Elessar is Aragon's elvish name (he was raised by the elves) and the name he assumes once he becomes King. The term elessar actually refers to a green jewel (in a ring of course) that contains a bit of a star (making it apropos to pair with Aidan). But the person who has the right to wear the stone is also referred to as the elessar - a person who is a healer. In LOTR Aragon shows that he is a healer as well as a leader and King. But the idea behind this type of healer is not just one who can heal physical wounds, but one who can look at any person or situation and see the good underneath. The healing occurs by the elessar being able to bring forth the inherent good in people and in the world. I loved that concept and pray that my child can be one of those who see that "there's good in this world and it's worth fighting for." (and yes, we are complete nerds as well...).

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