27 February 2011

Grayden Christopher: How do we always end up naming our kids after firearms?

If you have known Kristi and me for more than five minutes, you know that we value the meaning behind a name *a lot*. So, here is the story about why we chose the simple but powerful name Grayden Christopher.

First of all, I have a grievance. With Remi, I must say that it didn't occur to me that we were naming Remi after a gun until someone pointed it out a couple weeks after he was born. We all joked about naming our next boy Colt, etc.

And, actually, we talked about the middle name "Browning" for a while, but we ultimately decided against it since that would definitely give more of a Second Amendment flair to our family names than we had originally planned.

Enter "Grayden". Actually, "gradan". In Gaelic, "gradan" means "gunfire". Sigh. I suppose it was unavoidable.

Alright, so what does "Grayden Christopher" really mean to us?

Executive Summary

I learned this term the other day and think it makes things sound really important, so I am using it here. Since I'm the Executive Secretary in my ward right now, it seemed appropriate anyway.

Gradyen Christopher means "Born of Nobility, Bearer of Christ".

Non-Executive Summary

So, for all you non-executives out there, here is the nitty gritty.

For me, life is about what you bring and what you leave. What did you bring to the table for the task at hand? What did you leave behind when you were done to further the work for the next guy?

That is what Grayden Christopher is about.

Grayden

As it is spelled, it would be easy to think that this gains its meaning in a similar way as Brayden (O.E.: broaden, widen; Gaelic: Salmon) or Hayden (German: heathen) does, but it doesn't. While it does have Old English roots as well as Gaelic like Brayden, it's not as easy to see the connection literally ('Brayden' looks a lot like 'broaden').

First, let's take a look at Gaelic. Grayden is a variation on the Irish name Grady. How do I know that? We decided it when we wrote down the name. Now, the Irish name "O'Grady" relates to the Irish "Ghraidhiaigh" and literally means "Old Tree". To understand the context, it is important to know that trees were so important to the Irish that the letters of their alphabet each refer to a tree. To be given the name Grady in an Irish setting is to be ascribed with a great deal of importance. Thus, the modern translation of Grady is "noble" or "reknowned".

The name O'Grady, then, is "son/descendant/born of nobility."We didn't add the "O'" because we believe that his "nobility" (read: divine nature) is implied by simply being a son of God. Besides, my wife would have killed me had I suggested "O'Grayden Christopher". Anyway, since it is my son, we'll use both basic meanings--Old Tree and Born of Nobility--in just a minute. :)

Second, Old English. Here, there are a couple of possibilities, so we'll use the one that makes my son's name the coolest. According to some sources that I don't completely understand, "Graden" comes from the Old English word "gamolfeax" or "grey-haired". In my own research, I found that "grad" (long a) means "grass", which comes from the Proto-Indo-European "ghre" meaning "to grow or make green". "Denu" in Old English means "valley". So, for me, if I were an Angle and were wanting to name my kid something relating to "growing or fertile valley", I'd name him "Graden".

"Grayden" is about what we bring into life. While he doesn't know it, yet, Grady brings with him the nobility of his origin, even our Heavenly King. He brings with him the "God potential" synonymous with the royal priesthood that Paul teaches us about in his epistles. He has at his behest the wisdom of the ages and his family that welcome him to this modern day, the "old tree" and the "grey-haired". He is the "green valley", starting at the very beginning, but teeming with life. Finally, he, like all spirit children of God, is the "old tree" that Christ bore upon his back as he made the walk towards crucifixion.

And while the original meaning of O'Grady intimates the genealogical definition of "born", we, being romantics, call on the other meanings of "born" as well--"shared" and "carried/supported"--to give a richer meaning to his first name as a reference to his important heritage.

Christopher

The origin of Christopher is much more well-known. One thing that might not be apparent though is that this is Kristi's namesake. If we had a girl this time, she was going to be Mailey Kristine. Since we had a boy, Christopher seemed like the best choice to match it.

Christopher is a Greek name. The first half is obvious: Christ. The second half, 'opher', comes from the Greek word 'phoros', meaning "bearer", from "pherein", meaning "to carry". So, Christopher means "Bearer or Carrier of Christ". In fact, there is a legendary Saint Christopher who helped travelers by carrying them across the river. (Interesting tie to Christopher Columbus, no?)

So, "Christopher" is about what you leave. President Hinckley talked about not being the weak link, Christ taught us about bringing but one soul unto him, and each scripture that I read seems to have the underlying message of "here is what the prophets did, now what are you going to do?". If Grayden is about looking back at what has been afforded to him via ancestry, divine nature, talents, and means, then Christopher is about what he will do with it.

With all that Grady brings to the table, the greatest thing that he could do is be a "bearer" of Christ. That happens in three ways: 1) to testify, 2) to bear up, and 3) to have kids.

To testify: This is the usual interpretation--to be a missionary and a teacher, but about what? About Christ and His divinity, of course, but about something else as well. Remember Christ's hints about our connection with Him. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these...", "When ye are in the service of your fellow men...", etc. Isn't to testify of Christ and His divinity also to testify of his brothers and sisters and their divine nature?

To bear up: Christ will be Christ with or without our supporting hands, but there is also that statue that says that "Christ has no hands but our hands". I believe that we bear up Christ when we bear up our fellow men.

To have kids: Grady will also be a bearer of Christ as he realizes his truest divine potential, which is to participate in the eternal progression of his own little ones years down the road. He bears Christ to them in a way that no one else will by being a righteous father and priesthood holder.

Grayden Christopher

You noticed the play on the verb "to bear" in both names. "Born of Nobility" and "Bearer of Christ" both use the same verb, though in different senses, though both senses are about who Grady is. You don't get to choose your parents (temporal or spiritual), and Grady can't change the fact that he was born of spiritually noble parentage--he is who he is. His noble birth is one that requires him to turn and be a bearer of Christ, again whether he likes it or not--he will either be a good bearer or a bad one, but he hasn't a choice whether or not to be one.

It's also meant to imply how his eternal nature has had an influence on his temporal existence today. Christ tells the Pharisees that before Abraham was "I am". While that was mostly a declaration of divinity, it is also a reminder that we all pre-existed and thus had a hand in executing the preliminaries of the Plan of Salvation which would later enable each one of us to take on a body, etc. I believe that it is valuable to see ourselves in the same eternal existence.

Executive Conclusion

"Grayden Christopher" is an awesome name and we should put the full weight of the organization behind it.

Non-Executive Conclusion

We love giving meaningful names to our children that they can reflect on as they seek out their identity in a tumultuous world. It is an additional temporal staff and stay that we can provide to our children to point them to the only real staff and stay, Jesus Christ.

I hope that you like the name.