E L E M E N T 7 9

Years ago one of my sons asked why, when asked his name by someone, I spelled, rather than said it.

I said, “We are trained to respond to sound, but sometimes, what we say and what we hear are two different things. So to be sure we are understood, sometimes we must say the same thing differently because it helps people to listen differently.”

“I don’t understand, Mom,” he replied.

I smiled, knowing he wouldn’t and told him that next time someone asked his name, I would say it, instead of spell it, so he could see what I meant.

The day soon came, and when his name was asked, I said it without spelling the letters aloud. The person listening then began searching for his name and could not find it. It was then that I spelled my son’s name, and still, he could not find it. The man was sure that my son’s name was not on the list, and I was sure it was.

I tried once more, but looked at the gentleman’s name tag and to bring him more present I used his name. He looked up at me and said, “Oh! I was looking at the wrong letter!”.

I laughed and looked down at my son, who was looking at me and smiling. As we walked away, I asked, “Do you understand why I always spell your name first, without saying it?”

“I get it now, it’s like fat and p – h – a – t,” he said.

I laughed, “No. Not quite, but I think you know what I mean.”

I think that love is like this too, and that sometimes we attune to a particular sound and live our lives thinking that love is something it isn’t.

So when someone comes along and says our name, and then looks for ways to spell love out to us, they are asking us to stop and listen with different ears.

It’s a jarring moment to realize that something you didn’t think was there, really was the entire time; and vice-versa.

From tree to tree and flower to flower, we were born to be spelling bees of golden honeyed love, and we’ve never needed anyone’s approval.