the ponderings of a mother

These are the ponderings of a mother in love with her children, both in my arms and in the grave. Some of these ponderings are quite emotional, some are funny, others contemplative and spiritual. All are sincere. May these writings bless you in many ways and bring you closer to the one, true God and Redeemer of all things.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


This past weekend we attended the 1st birthday of our much-loved friends’ twin baby girls. Born at just over three pounds last April, we celebrated their life this year and their parents making it through the most sleep-deprived year of their lives. Hosting this shin-dig was Persian friends of the twins’ parents, so we went to celebrate knowing we would be meeting new people.

Crossing the threshold of the home we were immediately introduced to a couple Mohammeds, a couple Mojgans, and a Kate, all this before emerging from the vestibule! Warm, wonderful people in a warm, beautiful home. I had no idea who went with whom and feeling a bit overwhelmed I found my little place on the floor playing with Elsa and the other kids. 

Once the international display of food was laid out for us all to eat our fill, the invisible walls between could-be friends began to disappear.  Food has a way of doing that, doesn’t it?  Jeff and I sat at a table with others with whom we could not speak.   Smiling and attempting introductions we met the man with the tan button-up shirt and the yellow-striped tie to whom the rest of the table belonged. I said to him, Hello, my name is Kimberly.  He said My name is Vazir, it means minister. Like a leader.  (Think Prime Minister or Minister of Finance).

He did not speak much English, but he knew how to properly introduce himself.  In fact he knew so little that was nearly the extent of our entire lunchtime exchange. He did introduce another family member, and the meaning of their name as well, which now escapes me. We did manage to converse a bit more through a woman who came to sit at our table. Also Persian, she had moved to the States from Iran 9 years ago, her English now perfected. She did a bit of translating for us and then she and I continued on conversing, primarily about Vazir and Iran.

Launching directly into their Iranian history, Mojgan told me that in 1979 Islamic extremist took power and the penalty for not converting was execution. She, herself a refugee of now almost a decade ago, still spoke with such passion about her homeland, her frustration and disappointment over its corrupted power. She is not a Muslim or Christian or of any religious affiliation, she told me. She was a "free-thinker", she said, and proud to be so. She told me how she was a social worker and outspoken against the government, which is partly why they needed to leave the country as refugees in fear for their lives.

Mojgan told me some about Vazir as well.  He is also a refugee. He arrived last week…whoa, last week… when she spoke those words time stalled for that moment as I looked at their smiling faces around the table (Vazir, his wife, his children) and wanted to know so much more. There must be so. much. more.  The snippet I got was that Vazir spend 11 years in prison because of his political activism, speaking against his government and their fundamentally skewed ideologies, leading to their outrageous crimes against their people. In fact, Vazir himself escaped through mountain villages into Turkey where he stayed with is family until he could get permission to come to the States. This permission is impossible to get in Iran, as it is one of three countries that do not have an American Embassy.  

I sat their taking all of this in.  When Vazir had told me his name, and then immediately its meaning I was profoundly warmed, even before I knew any of his story. The meaning of a name is important and I loved that he introduced himself with it. I believe it can be a powerful way to set one in their historical place within a family or an era or maybe a calling. Naming can give meaning to our all-to-often floating existence in the current culture where place and identity is lost yet so deeply long for. Naming can also be freeing. You know, calling what is…what is. Like how those who enter AA must introduce themselves as an alcoholic, Hello, my name is ______________, and I am an alcoholic. This is not meant for shame, but for freedom. Jesus said the truth will set us free (John 8:32).  Is it not freeing to say both who we are, and who we are not? The great relief there is in knowing who we are.  And great relief from the burden of being who we are not. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says “Blessed are those who mourn  for they will be comforted” …but how can we accept that comfort if we do not first acknowledge we mourn? Or “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled” …but how can we find food if we are too proud to acknowledge we are hungry? Naming is powerful and essential to our freedom and our well-being.

 When I met Vazir I tried to tell him of our son Jonan Eilam. I wanted so much to say his name and what it means. Why we named him such, and how God has used that. It felt appropriate but it just did not work given all the barriers of religion, culture, and language. Plus, I felt I just needed to listen hospitably to the precious bit he was able to offer. He was proud of that name, as he should be. He was given his name birth, yet in a way is still becoming his name more and more through his life. Here he was in a new country, owning nothing, stripped bare of all but his name. And so that is what he offered to me. In fact, he told me the meaning twice during our short exchange.

My name is Vazir, it means minister. Like a leader.

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