Of The Royal Meadow
Frequently, on a Saturday morning, my mother and I would head to “Good Tidings” the only known Christian bookstore within 20 miles of our home, its name declaring its message within. It could have been any number of motivations which wooed my mother into that little shop each Saturday. Which lie nestled between a car wash and a grocery store. A bad week, a good week, a hungry spirit a dry heart, an unsettled truth, an unknown truth, loneliness, joyfulness, or even a little extra in the child support check. Saturday seemed to be the most demanding day for believers to gather Christian literature, brushing up on their holy language the day before church. These days occurred shortly after my older sisters, Caren and Tammy made their exodus to Dad’s house, leaving mom and I alone together. Good Tidings sold all sorts of goodies, artwork, small toys, movies, posters, Sunday school curriculum, music books, and cassette tapes. Cards for every occasion, devotionals, bible studies and knick knacks and idol like statues. The walls were always lined with large framed oil paintings bearing a scripture in the lower left corner, of which eventually held my sisters biblical artwork years later. Joseph at the bottom of a pit grieving, Samson with his hands bound and his eyes gone, Abigail riding a donkey in humility as she rode to David, Daniel praying near an open window, Nehemiah weeping over the Broken commandments. Perfect representations of her inner emotions. So much suffering yet each one exploring the depths of pain and the spilling beyond the edges of paper and color to define truth through experience.
Good tidings was always owned and still is by the same Pricilla. I don’t even know her last name, even after all these years; it’s as though she just always existed like the ancient biblical Melchezideck, so fitting for her name. The only thing that changed was location, and that we had to remember. Pricilla always maintained her faithful following of believers, but had to move several times due to unknown reasons, at least uncared about by a ten year old. There was a bell which hung at the top of the front door, alerting Pricilla to her visitors and potential customers. If she couldn’t meet you eye to eye at the entrance, her voice would ring out from behind some packing boxes or while on a stool hanging a picture.
“How are you?” she would call out as if she had been waiting all day for your arrival and could see your face and into your past three life crises. Who knows she probably could. The Christian community where I grew up all seemed incestuous knowing each other’s gossip, latest births, marriages, and other life circumstances. News, if nothing else traveled from one church to another quite efficiently. Her hair black and thick, cut to her shoulders, frizzy, and well brushed. She had a tall slender body. Her wrists adorned with gold bracelets, and other jewelry. it wasn’t unusual to see her in a tank top and a long flowing skirt, in the summer or a turtleneck in the winter. She wore glasses attached by a long chain that fell around her neck. She had a friendly and cheerful voice which would wish her customers a
“Happy birthday Jesus day” instead of merry Christmas, and
“Have a happy resurrection day” on Easter while handing you your bag which said on it, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Good tidings for sure!
Mom and I would park out front in the crowded parking lot which also housed a long strip mall with several other attractions. A Chinese food restaurant, a car wash, a super market, a gas station, a laundry mat, a fashion bug and other favorites. Mom’s hot red firebird stuck out almost as much as I never realized we did. These times were important for me though I didn’t understand it then. My two older sisters far from home, ‘too old’ for church or parents or doing what was right. I began to become who I was made to be during these years. And perhaps it all started here, in Good Tidings. Looking back a can see how very different I am from my two sisters, how different our lives are, and I can’t help but wonder what role this time played. Mom and I going to church together, doing the shopping together, driving to school, being quiet together. Hating and loving each other passionately and resentfully at times, but never the less our lives took on a certain routine, which comforted and cradled and gave me a premise for my future.
My favorite thing to buy at good tidings and perhaps the only thing we could afford was a little name card. I always wanted one every time we went. Sometimes I would buy one, other times mom would front the bill, searching for loose change in the bottom of her purse. I had an entire collection of these name cards with different pictures. The name card held my name in thick black print, it’s origin , and its meaning followed by a bible verse usually from proverbs. With a tiny picture or decoration at the top or framing the words. I would make a bee line for the large plastic book containing these cards in plastic sleeves, like those which held baseball cards. I would flip through slowly searching, scanning the alphabetized names. The girls were on one side the boys on another, each bore their own color and picture. The book was massive I felt like I was flipping through the book of life with all those names some i could put a a face to others strange and unfamiliar. Everything quiet around me, while customers flipped through books and searched for their own meaning among the shelves and walls of that little store, occasionally an interaction would occur, two strangers looking for the same book. They would strike up a conversation ; discovering all sorts of commonalties between them, mom was usually one of them she knew everyone! She was like a long musical note which carried far and wide touching everyone in its path. Occasionally two distance friends reunited unexpectantly with a hug and some tears.
J…Jacob, joseph, Jillian, K…Karen, Kim, Kimberly. I stopped.
“of the royal meadow” What meadow? What does that mean, I didn’t know I had no frame of refrence yet , as I was young and didn’t know even myself. But royal, I could understand that word. I didn’t get it. Meadow? Where, how? What is “of” in connection to meadow, was I born there like a little fairy introduced to the world through a tiny tulip opening up in the morning? I couldn’t understand, and I wished secretly that my name could have meant something simple like, Tammy’s name: perfection. Or my mom, Melody: which meant music, in addition, my name didn’t even really belong to anyone famous…poop! Everyone else’s name was so fitting and proper. Tammy the painter is a perfectionist, beautiful , disciplined, fit and trim. Mom with her constant whistling and cheerful singing around the house and blaring her worship music. Oh well, whatever the case was or wasn’t ‘of the royal meadow’ was difficult to swallow, too complex to understand so I took the one word I could understand and applied. It seemed to fit, “royalty” I would tell everyone my name meant, since mom would call me “queenie around the house when I was being bossy or definitiv and opinionated. I used to think ‘of the meadow’didn’t count! Like it was sort of a slip up, a mistake a punctuation at the end of a sentence. I disregarded that part, and clung to the royal part. I liked seeing my name, mine in the written professional form, typed. It somehow made me more real, official person, worth something; though I didn’t always feel any of these things.
In an act of teenage stupidity, before my brain had dully developed perhaps, and in attempt to severe parental dependence, I replaced the “Y” in my name with “IE” I did this subtly and yet illegally, meaning I never changed it on my birth certificate with a 50 dollar bill. Yet when I filled out the application to receive my license, my passport, my first car, my apartment lease and everything else of mass significance, I conveintly used “IE”. But the meaning stuck with me and little did I know changing a name doesn’t change you. In fact it is not your name at all that makes you who you are, it is somehow revealed or unfolded within your character over time.
I have given so much thought to the meaning of names in my lifetime. It really truly is one of those underliying mysteries which fascinates me. I gave deep thought to naming my own children making certain their names had significant meanings in accordance with truth and the beauty of God. Joel meaning God is willing and Hannah meaning ; the grace of God. I have studied in painful details the meanings of the names of the biblical characters in scripture, and yet all these years I have only clung on to “royal” in my own name. I accepted it and moved on. Forgetting either through choice or frustration that there was another part. Somuch like a human to pick and choose what they like and understand discarding the more significant.
The other day I was walking through a wooded area with a friend. We were unexpectedly and casually talking about the meaning of names, I’m not sure how the topic arose from our weary bodies, but it did. Walking back from a fishing spot in the evening, swatting at masqiutos. She told me the meaning of her name, “sweet!”, Tri which means three and dolce which means sweet. Three times sweet.” I laughed. “boy, trils that really fits your personality!
Suddenly as if spoken by that little girl walking out of the bible bookstore it slipped from my mouth. A fossil awoken from a long sleep, “my name means of the meadow!” where did it come from this memory? I shocked myself. Why hadn’t I deferred to royalty, like every other arrogant time in social circles ?
“she nodded while continuing to look at the ground, yeah I can see that about you?” and I realized she probably could, though not in the same way I could see it clearly now for the first time ever. People are used to me talking about eating well, and natural foods, and natural ways, and holistic medicine, nature, kids running free and wild embracing their unstructured instinctive desires to create. My hatred of video games and tv and ferris wheels and all sorts of technology. So even to my friend and probably all of them that would make sence. Why had I not made that simple primitive connection until now?
“of the meadow” it stuck out so vividly in my mind at that moment, as if I was reading one of those little cards again, a yellow one with purple flowers around the edge.
It was light dawning on Marblehead. And for the first time “of the meadow made perfect sense to me. I knew what it meant and how it connected to my deepest desires. It was like finding a long lost puzzle piece, and fitting it into place. It had been decades since I have seen a name card with my name etched in bold new time’s roman or pondered that particular meaning. But how intricately it described me, not just me, but the inner silent me. The part that dreams quietly of open fields, and long grasses waving their gentle heads in the wind, acres of land and God’s country licking my bare feet and tickling my legs. Trees and flowers and hidden streams whispering to my tender ears in sacred forests. Birds singing unapologetically before the sun arises. This is what lies inside, that I can barely describe, I can barely hope that I will ever live in a place so wonderful. I have succumbed to the idea that perhaps it is eternity set in my heart. My heart aches for this life which bubbles up in my soul when I see a meadow. It heals my broken places. I long for it like a stallion the open countryside. Tears come upon me involuntarily as I pass by rolling hills and places of green grass. I had forgotten not my dream, but my name. My spirit comes to life in the meadows – and feels hopelessy imprisoned in the walls of the cities with it’s synthetic lights and fences and paved roads.
Yes! Of the meadow, perhaps not just a meaning, but a purpose, a calling a confirmation. Its funny how it took me so long. I knew it all this time, drawn to it something I couldn’t quite understand, then I shelved it while I figured out who I was, now I have taken in back.
Deep deep within me, like the very bottom of a treasure chest lies a dream. Untouched and unvisited. A vision, perhaps a memory, a silent longing that sings in the quiet of the morning and rises up like the sun on the horizon, the eagle riding the wind. Yet it retreats obeying nessecity and bowing to practicality. The routine which kidnaps me from my fantasy and forces me to join the multitudes in reality. I brush it off, I push my dream away. I ignore it because I can’t explain it and I feel I can’t have it. A vision of an open field spanning beyond my kitchen window. My children playing at the border of the forest which lines the hem of our backyard. They are standing together with their backs toward me, looking at something intensely perhaps a tiny creature carrying food, a distinct insect, an unknown plant. They are discovering, explaining, dissecting life with their intuition. I close my eyes and breathe deeply of the air. It is fresh untouched by the constant diesel fuel of cars in desperate need to get somewhere, work, school, the market. My time belongs to me in this private world. Play is unstructured, resources are abundant and tenderly cared for. The grass is sprinkled with dew. The trees are large and old scattered randomly creating certain shade and lovely hiding places. They line the long dirt drive leading to our front door. Tears flood my longing eyes when I pass by my dream in someone else’s reality. A garden , chickens pecking carelessly as they wonder the woodline. At certain times it is too overwhelming that I accept this as God’s grace and kindness to reveal to me a glimpse of heaven, not earth. But whatever it is heaven or earth, I understand now, that my name, my nature is eternally linked to it’s true meaning, and I wasn’t named without careful thought by my loving creator. I am living out and inside the truth of who I am.
Knowing this and calling it out, doesn’t change too much around me. But it confirms this sweet desire that illuminates my heart and soul. God has chosen to give it to me and it is truly part of who I am and who he made me to be. And how curious that it started so long ago in such an unassuming way, shopping at a bookstore, searching through plastic sleeves. Finding truth and putting it together. How interesting that it has taken so long, and yet. God always knows what he is doing and His timing in revealing to us purpose and definition is never late. It gives me hope that he really does know what he’s doing apart from time, unbound by the world, tethered to only his own word and love for his children who he so deeply knows and longs for them to discover who they are in regards to what He calls them.
So here I am now understanding exactly what he calls me, how and why.