If any of you have ever had a change to your name, you know how important it is to inform everyone you know about this name change. So I am hereby using this column to officially announce to all of you a very important change to my name. From now on, you are all welcome to call me by my new name, “Pops.”
It’s been thirty-one years since I first had my life turned upside down by someone only 20 inches long, but it happened again this week. And once again my heart and soul are feeling an intensity of love that I didn’t know was possible. You might have figured out by now that I indeed became a grandfather this week. Our son and his wife are the proud parents of a baby boy who is–and this is a completely objective opinion–clearly the most adorable baby ever! And if you twist my arm, I might even show you a picture or two or ten or a video or even share a story of how perfect our grandson is!
There is an ancient tradition that extends across all time and all spiritual traditions of a person receiving a new name after they have either had a profound conversion experience or after they have taken on a new role or position. Saul became Paul when he changed his ways in biblical times. This happened again recently when Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was elected Pope and changed his name to Francis. Years ago, I remember when a young boxer named Cassius Clay converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammed Ali, and when a young basketball player named Lew Alcindor changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
While I will still answer to, “Scott,” I’m really liking the sound of my new name, “Pops.” Even more, I like the feel of Pops. I am not the only person to have received a new name as a result of the arrival of our grandson. Three other grandparents, including my wife, have received new names as well. And, of course, our grandson has his own new name!
Most importantly though, there are two other people who have received new names. Their names are the names our son and his wife received, that of Mom and Dad. Any of us who have been blessed to be called by those names know the joy of parenthood and the joy they are now experiencing as they step into those roles.
Three different people this week have given me the same piece of advice in regard to becoming a grandparent. They have each said to me, “Hold on to your heart!” And to each person I have said the same thing, “It’s too late for that.” If I had wanted to hold on to my heart, I would have never had children myself. I am reminded of the quote by Elizabeth Stone: “Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” I now know this to be true for grandparents, too, and I also know it to be true for any one of us who has ever fallen in love with a child or any other human being for that matter. Falling in love is not about holding on to your heart, but about allowing your heart to be exposed in a whole new and life-expanding way.
Please join with me in giving thanks for the miracle of this new life that has come into our midst. Please also join me in expressing gratitude for the countless ways in which love continues to be born into our world day after day, in so many different ways. Even though our names may not be changed, our hearts are changed forever whenever we dare to truly love another human being, because love changes everything.