Rev. Elizabeth Rowley is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at revelizabeth@cccsl.org.

A person’s name is the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality. Names carry deep personal, cultural, familial, and historical ties. They give us a sense of who we are, the communities in which we belong, and our place in the world.

We are souls with bodies – we have landed in these bodysuits on this planet at this time. Over the years, we have grown, discovered, learned, and become something. Our experiences have helped shape who we are as individuals and contribute to our identity. An unhealed ego keeps us separate. A healed ego unifies with the whole. Your wholly holy uprising is your recognition, realization, and embodiment of the oneness and interconnectedness you have with all of life. When your name is spoken, the Divine spark within you awakens, and you radiate your magnificent good outward. What’s in a name?

Consider how much the following names symbolize and what they mean to you when you hear them: Rosa Parks. Jesus. Florence Nightingale. Martin Luther King. Mother Teresa. Malcolm X. Nelson Mandela. Mahatma Gandhi. John Lewis. Harriet Tubman. Dalai Lama. Paramahansa Yogananda. Baba Ram Dass. Maharajji. Amma. Oprah Winfrey.

The 911 memorial is a tribute of remembrance honoring the 2,977 people killed in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing on Feb. 26, 1993. Their names are inscribed on bronze parapets surrounding the twin memorial pools. What’s in a name?

Getting through this together, Atascadero


A wise woman once said, “Keep my name safe in your mouth.” What a beautiful reminder to remember when speaking of others, speak highly of them, lift their name if we speak of them, and avoid gossip and negativity.
Another wise woman once said, “Keep my name safe in my mouth.” An equally magnificent reminder to speak highly of yourself, striving to lift yourself, rather than take yourself out with harsh words of negativity. You’ll have to place your inner critic in a time-out for that one.

That same woman also said, “I will keep your name safe in my mouth.” My promise to you, to strive always to lift you and speak highly of you, no matter what.

Say their names is an important movement wherein we are asked to speak the names of black victims killed unjustly. George Floyd. Ahmad Aubrey. Tamir Rice. Trayvon Martin. Sandra Bland. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Tanisha Anderson. Willie Tillman. Alton Sterling. Atatiana Jefferson. Rayshard Brooks. And so many more.
We say their names because we know the powerful healing that comes from giving space to grieve and mourn as a community. We open ourselves to be more inclusive and welcoming.

Say their names for remembrance, mourning, and healing. Say your name to call yourself up and out. Contemplate your legacy and what you’d like your name to mean to future generations.

And so it is.