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When my mother was around twenty years old, she was in a fire that killed her mother and sister. They were in a small house in Florida and their wood burning stove exploded. Someone rescued my mother and when she woke up in the hospital, the funerals and burials had already taken place – officiated by her father who was a minister. My mother was still in college, but a few years later she married and started a family. Somehow it happened that I – who was the middle daughter – got the name Miriam – from her sister and Janette, who was her mother, who died in the fire.

My mother didn’t talk about the fire much, but as I grew older I heard about it and could tell she had unhealed memories around the fire. In those days, there was no treatment for post traumatic stress disorder or survivors guilt. I always felt that was how she lost her faith in God and Jesus, not being able to fathom how God could allow something like that.

However, this is my conjecture, and I was left with the names of two women whom I never met. My mother dearly loved both of them, and I felt like I had a good heritage. Mother also told me the story of how Miriam saved Moses – over and over!  Later I read Numbers 12 and learned that God gave Miriam leprosy for talking against Moses. I always wondered why Aaron – who talked against Moses also – never got leprosy. In fact – I still wonder.

I have always felt names are important. Once I was clowning on Christmas Day at a church that had a huge party for homeless people. I was sort of playing the role of a clown – elf. There was a woman helping out there who was interested in my clowning and wanted to talk to me after the party. During our conversation, she found out my name was Miriam and felt I should get a book called Miryam of Nazareth. Spelled with a “Y.”  She wrote the name on a small piece of paper and made me promise I would get it and read it. I was surprised to find that book had made it through my extreme downsizing when we moved to Denver!  I will read it again.

People have also told me such things as Miriam was a prophetess and singer and dancer. In some modern day Passovers an orange is put on the Seder plate to represent Miriam’s role. I like the ending of the name in “I.AM.”  It’s taken me a long time to grow into truly liking my name.

I want to end with something that has nothing to do with Miriam. Miriam spelled backwards is MAIRIM – almost the same but my clown name REVEREND ABSURD pronounced backwards is DNEREVER DRUSBA!!  Isn’t that musical?  It even sounds French to me!

How does your name sound pronounced backwards?


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