To Read: Click on song title to watch a video
from West Side Story
The most beautiful sound I ever heard
All the beautiful sounds of the world
in a single word
I just met a girl named Maria
And suddenly that name
Will never be the same to me
I just kissed a girl named Maria
And suddenly I found
How wonderful a sound can be
Say it loud and there’s music playing
Say it soft and it’s almost like praying
I’ll never stop saying
From the Scriptures:
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ 14 When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ 16 Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’
What is the name by which God calls you? Is it a pet name from your childhood or perhaps one used only amongst your siblings? I am the only one in the whole world who calls my sister ‘Minnie’, how we got there from her given name of Sandra is a long story…
In West Side Story Maria is called ‘Maruka’ by her parents, and on hearing it Tony falls even more in love with her. When I listen for the voice of The One Who Loves Us Best, which I do far less than I should (and kick myself when I realise I have been deaf to the sound of my own name) I know I am, gently and tenderly, called simply ‘Andrew’.
God calls me (and you) just as Jesus did in the garden. Wanting to heal the heart of the grieving Magdalene, He gently breathed out the word ‘Mary’.
For God our own name is indeed ‘All the beautiful sounds of the world in a single word’.
In my more fey moments I imagine God practicing saying my name so that when I am in earshot I will be pulled away from whatever is taking me away from love and fling myself in the arms of the gardener weeping and laughing at the same time and responding with my own ‘Rabbouni!’
I don’t quite know when, or why, we ever thought we had to ‘find’ God to be saved. God is always the One who comes calling for us, looking for us, seeking out the lost sheep. In the garden of Eden, knowing that our first parents had proved themselves to be all too human, the Voice still calls out to them in the cool of the evening. Throughout the history of the Children of Israel a faithful God refuses to let go of his rebellious and faithless people. Jesus, at the very beginning of his story goes and ‘finds’ his disciples (John 1.43) even if only two verses later Philip has the gall to say to his brother the he was the one who found Jesus!
Always, everywhere, everyday God is whispering your name to you. Without Judgement, without command, overflowing with love. To God, our own name is All the beautiful sounds of the world in a single word. Why would we ever not run into the arms of such a Lover?
For me, I sometimes hide when I hear God calls my name because I am (like our first parents) ashamed. How can God still be so tender and gentle towards me after all my sin, my wilfulness, and my disregard for others? But God is. All the stories of the ‘lost things’ in Luke chapter 15 give me hope as they show a God who is faithful, determined, and patient. God does not care how we became lost – the story reminds us that even if you stay at the Father’s side you can still be a lost soul – but only cares that we are found so that God may rejoice over you and me.
To find each of us, God calls our name, and for God our name, your name, is indeed all the beautiful sounds of the world in a single word and God says with Maria and Tony ‘te adoro’.
May God stride out before you on your journey
through life and through prayer
May Jesus, your playful Brother,
pace you in His holy way to the end.
May the Holy Spirit greet you
at each corner and cuddle you to her breast.
Sîan Swain Taylor, Wales
Spend time in silence today listening for God calling your name.
When you hear, speak of your sorrows, your hopes, and your love.
Encore: Click on song title to watch a video
In the song Tonight Tony and Maria decide that their love is strongenough to heal the war between their families. In the end it does but at a price and the movie ends with Maria as a Pièta…
Prayers are from ‘Prayers Encircling the World’ and are copyright © SPCK: 1998.
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘A Song for Lent – 40 Days in the West End’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2018