we had plenty of good choices for a girl’s name. but what about a boy? there weren’t any family names that called out to us. but without the history, the stability of tradition, what do you do? we could call him Seamus or Forrest or even Noam. so.
it isn’t a family name, but there is plenty of history…
one morning, maybe 15 years ago, Gertrud Mueller Nelson came as a guest speaker to St Paul’s. it was December 6, St Nicolas Day, and she told us stories about his life. she even made us ginger cookies in the shape of the tiny bishop. it was the first time that i experienced the grace of the church calendar. the true goodness of the communion of saints. her words started me on a path that has added such depth and richness to my faith. it’s hard to imagine not honoring Nicolas each year at the beginning of Advent. and marking the entire, wild turn of the church each year.
as for Andy, the first time he encountered the idea that faith could mean not just obedience, but also creativity was in the work of Nicolas Berdyaev. again, Berdyaev’s writings threw on lights for Andy. it changed the way he thought about the church and his place in it.
so Nicolas isn’t a family name. but it is a name with history.
p.s. West is a family name…my great grandfather, Christopher Columbus West’s, family name.