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GUEST COLUMN: What’s in a name?

Deck Cheatham

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton.

It’s not quite a boy named Sue, but it’s close. It’s a song named Chester. My wife and I walked to the church to attend the Smiley Gregg concert celebrating American music. The choir celebrated and sang “From Sea to Shining Sea” and “What a Wondrous Love is This,” and between, a song named “Chester” among others. I learned songs, at one time, were given names which might be more American than titles. It’s certainly more Southern. Chester is a good name if you’re naming songs. Names keep seeping into consciousness this week. I am presently reading the novel “Trophy” by Michael Griffith. I am not a fiction reader, but Michael and I were reared in the big O, Orangeburg, South Carolina, so I read and connect, remembering our shared past from reference to reference.

As I was reading on page 55, the name Shot appeared. Without Trophy’s short chapters, Shot may have remained buried in my frontal lobe. Every town has its characters and Shot belonged to Orangeburg. Shot was crippled before the terms handicapped and physically challenged evolved. The gang just knew he limped on a shoe with a 6-inch sole, or so the image remains.

What’s in a name?

My friend Michael writes, “we find roles, or they find us, and we fill them, gratefully or crankily, until at last the role is full enough all on its own, thank you, and then we can retreat inside ourselves and be our small and secret selves and no one will know or care because it’s not our selves they notice, but our roles.”

There is truth in this passage leading me to a bigger question. What’s in a faith? Time renders us to the fate of our small decisions. We wake, then pursue and hoard our dreams and possessions until our role is filled. As we play it safe, being too satisfied or dissatisfied, we inure ourselves to inevitability. But what is faith but possibility? And how is anything possible until we act on faith?

Faith is much, and our God is the God who agitates our satisfaction and dissatisfaction. He agitates those small decisions even as we move toward or away from him. In the name called faith, God loves us enough to never leave us alone until we love neighbor as self and God with all of self. This is love. This is faith. This is more.

The years have expressed our predictability. We fill our roles with pride, self-will and feigned piety or just some good old self-pity. And when we retreat to our secret self, God is there. When all is said and done, how should we respond? Chester says it best.

“What grateful offering shall we bring? What shall we render to the Lord? Loud hallelujahs let us sing, and praise his name on every chord.”

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Contact him at pgadeacon@gmail.com.