Becoming Your Name
In Stephen R Lawhead’s Merlin, when Merlin gave the infant boy to Tewdrig, asking him to be his stepfather, Tewdrig asks what the boy was to be called.
Shameful to tell, I had not thought to call the infant anything. Neither Uther nor Ygerna had bestowed a name, and I had been too preoccupied with its safety to give it any consideration. But the babe must have a name …
A word is given when a word is required. And this time, like so many others, the name came unbidden to my tongue: “Arthur.”
Tewdrig tried the name. “Arthur … Very well. An unusual name, though. What does it mean?”
“I believe he will have to make the meaning for himself.”
As Merlin had said about his own name: “Every man has two names: the one he is given, and the one he wins for himself.” While they bear the name given them at birth, others name Legendary Leaders “Visionary,” “Wise,” “Just,” “Compassionate,” “Courageous,” or “Prophetic.” What is the name your life and work is “winning” for you?
There is a beautiful picture of our journey that reads like something written by J.R.R. Tolkien, George MacDonald or C.S. Lewis. In St. John’s book Revelation, he writes that when we arrive in heaven, we will be given a white stone with our name written on it: a name no one knows but God. This is a central aspect of your Quest, part of what it means to be “whole.” You are becoming that name. Your life is a living letter, an evolving story. You are the central character in your story: the hero or heroine.
Imagine: As the story begins, your counselor has suggested that you are experiencing severe angst. You constantly speak of needing to go somewhere you have never been, of seeing faraway places in your mind’s eye, of feeling out of place, and of not fitting in your surroundings. It’s not a physical place you are looking for, however, but a metaphysical place, a spiritual place.
You are constantly being overwhelmed with the feeling that there is another “you” struggling within to reveal his or her self. What makes the story particularly intriguing is the fact that you have amnesia. Hearing that there is a psychologist who can help you, you have come to this person for counsel.
During one of your sessions, your counselor mentions this fabulous, unbelievable tale. She is not certain that it is literally true but thinks it might be a helpful metaphor. It appears that there is a king who lives on top of a mountain who knows you and knows your name. The challenge is going to be to get to the top of the mountain.
At the bottom of the mountain is a raging fire. It is a very strange fire. At the beginning of the path is an external fire that is, at times, excruciatingly painful and difficult to get through. However, once you do, the fire is absorbed into your soul, where it will then empower you for the rest of your journey. The fire at the bottom of the mountain purges away all that is not the individual you are to become. The fire that flames within gives you the power to take charge of your journey and to do whatever it takes to meet the king on top of the mountain.
(From my book, Legendary Leadership)
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