Book Review: Fragments of Your Ancient Name (Joyce Rupp)

Fragments of Your Ancient NameISBN 9781933495286
Available from Amazon

Reviewed by the Rev. Mary Kisner, rector, Christ Church, Berwick.

Isn’t it interesting that we use not just one but many names for those we love?  We choose names for our children quite carefully, then we come up with all sorts of nicknames for them as they grow up.  We never tire of calling our spouse or partner by a great variety of endearing terms.  Many of these favorite names are born from observing attitudes and behaviors of our loved ones, or remembering key stories in their lives.  No one name tells everything you would want to know about that person, and even when you take all of their pet names together, there is still more about them that needs to be explored.

It is quite the same with this book.  Joyce Rupp has written a wonderful devotional recounting many of the names we mortals have called God lovingly.  Gleaning those names from various religious traditions, she has compiled a devotional of “365 glimpses of the Divine” to share with us.  Each page is headed by another name of God and then followed by her own 10-line poetic meditation.  Following that Sr. Rupp gives us a simple sentence to help remind us of that Name throughout the day. 

The April 17 meditation is entitled “Tomb-Opener,” in reference to John 11:38-44.  It reads:

Just when the smell of death
Becomes unbearable
And the huge stone blocking light
Seems unmovable,
You send your angels in disguise
To let in light and refresh the air.
And in our returning to life
We discover that some blockages
Are far too massive
For us to remove by ourselves.

Today: I am ready to be untombed. (1)

About one-third of the meditations are based on passages from Scriptures (Lord of Hosts, The Resurrection, Chief Cornerstone), a few are based on writings from other religious traditions (The Witness, Lady of the Seasons, Inspirer of Faith), and the rest are inspired by the voluminous writings of other spiritual teachers and poets (Ground of Being, Tear-Wiper, Medicine of Dawn).  The very name of her book is borrowed from a poem by the German mystic Rainer Maria Rilke. 

Fragments of Your Ancient Name can lead you into the multi-dimensional realm of our God, and also into a deeper exploration of the core attributes and stunning behavior of the Divine through story, poem, and meditation.

(1) Taken from Fragments of Your Ancient Name © 2011 by Joyce Rupp.  Used by permission of Sorin Books ®.  All rights reserved.