Friday, July 27, 2007


Of all the spectacular, mind-boggling events that took place in the process of Creation and Earth's early days, it's difficult to imagine which ones would have been the most beautiful. Perhaps the process of God speaking the words of Life to bring everything into existence (or, as C.S. Lewis imagines it in The Magician's Nephew, He sang the words, which brings an interesting picture to the imagination), or Adam's first look into God's eyes, or Eve's eyes? Of course. But also, as I imagine it, I think one of the most fun parts would have been when Adam named the animals.

Names have always held such a special meaning that you could almost say that part of a being's personality is in their name. I am thinking of Parsnip the Opossum. Of all the forest creatures which came to the back porch, Sam Campbell-style, of my childhood home in the Ohio woods, the opossum was not necessarily one of the loveliest. It rather looked like an overgrown rat. But when someone in my family (I can't remember who it was) came up with a name for him--Parsnip (think of the shape and color of the tail)--suddenly, he was a cute pet.

From what I gather, names of people in ancient languages, especially Hebrew, held more meaning that names today. People named their children according to the characteristics they wanted them to have, or what was especially important to them, or describing some event or experience surrounding their birth. I can only imagine that Adam used his language to name the animals the same way. But what characteristics would he have chosen for each animal to describe it?

I can only imagine the bonding experience between Adam and God as they discussed what Adam thought of God's creatures. It would have been so much fun for Adam and God to share thoughts on what these creatures seemed like to them. Maybe the first ancient name for "cat" meant "that furry thing that won't stop pouncing my ankles." Or, "dog" meant "whenever I throw something like a stick away, it brings it right back." Maybe "spider" meant "too many legs" or "penguin" meant "oddly-shaped birdlike creature that doesn't fly and wears a tuxedo." "Giraffe" meant "get a load of that neck!" and "pig" meant "really pink with a weird nose." And, of course, "opossum" meant "overgrown rat with a tail like a parsnip." I can see Adam and God just rolling with laughter together at these descriptions.

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