A few weeks ago in church the speaking pastor made a comment about how in our culture “names don’t really mean anything,” people usually just pick them because they like the sound of them – the pastor and his wife included. And I laughed to myself. By now you know that meaning is central to how we choose our children’s names, so that morning just confirmed that we’re the crazies in our world. No shame.
Long before we’d chosen either of the boys’ names, Jon and I watched some close friends walk through a hard, hard season when they lost a baby girl. They had chosen a name for their daughter taken from an old Rabbinical word that describes the constant, intentional practice and awareness of the presence of God in every aspect of life. It was a concept our friends had taken from a ministry training, and it so beautifully described how they had to fully rely on God during their loss.
Almost exactly a year later, Jon and I discovered we were pregnant with Gavrel (even if we didn’t know it was Gavrel yet). We hadn’t stumbled into our naming process yet, but very early had a name come to mind that we both loved: Kavannah – the name of our friends’ daughter. We loved the sound (it’s pronounced more like the Irish surname “Cavanaugh”), the meaning, and the legacy of faith that came with it. With our friends’ blessing and permission, we agreed that we would love to use the name if we ever had a little girl.
So we sat on the name for a few years while we had boys. Around the time we were discussing having a third baby, I had several friends who were struggling with infertility or miscarriage. I mourned with a lot of friends that year. I found myself praying one morning, “Lord, there is so much pain around me. How do I celebrate this next baby while so many are hurting?” And the reassurance in my spirit was “Celebrate! Rejoice over this baby. You have no idea the healing and joy they will bring into life.” And so we paired the middle name Abigail, meaning “the joy of her Father.”
Kavannah Abigail – the intentional awareness of the presence of the God who delights in her. She remains the only one of our children to have her name come together before she existed, but we can’t imagine her being anything else. She is as unique a little creature as her name – deep, thoughtful, content, loving, joyful, and independent. Someone in whom God is richly present. She’s pretty great.