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What kind of a name is Zion, anyway?

One Tuesday evening during the summer of 2009 Dan baby Harvey and I were sitting on the Lexington bandstand lawn enjoying a summer concert and playing one of our favorite games: come up with baby names. With "Harvey" done and used up, we were in the market for a fall-back boy name and I was trying to think of hippy ones. Zephyr... Ezra... good but already taken by people we know. And I was thinking, "You know, I wish I could come up with a name that expresses not only our counter-cultural leanings but our hope for the future: our faith in God and humanity and our grand vision for a world that could be possible."

"I wish we could name a baby, like, 'New Jerusalem' or something." I said to myself.

"Wait, I've got it!" I said to Dan. "What about Zion?"

So Zion (rhymes with Brian) was enthroned as our leading boy's name, even as early as two years ago. It's a good thing this little one came out a boy too, because a potential girl baby really dodged the hippy bullet on being named "Agape," or "Easter," or "Jubilee." (Although I still can't see why Dan vetoed Jubilee. I may still fight for it in the future.)

Whether you are Jewish and waiting for the messiah to come, or Christian and waiting for the messiah to come back, Zion represents the hope we have in God's future. One day people will so reconcile with God and with each other that the real places where we live here on earth will be made new. And we don't want to be lazy laggards ourselves; we're trying in our little ways to infuse our environment and relationships with reconciliation. Obviously sometimes better than others. Hey, that's why it's a hope and a vision, not a brownie try-it.

With your children it is the same: you hope for big things and you work for little things. You hope grandly that they would live freer and truer and more connected lives than you ever could. At the same time you pray humbly that they would know God, that they would grow to follow Him, and that God would forgive you for the defects incurred in the shipping and handling.

All that hope wrapped up into a very little name for a very little guy. That's Zion. For the moment I'm calling him "Baby Z" and that seems to suit him too.


Hi Leah! Congratulations on Zion's arrival! Best wishes to you and your (now bigger) family. -Robyn

We are so excited for you guys, and the name Zion is perfect. When I heard it I thought of all the things you described here, and how it encapsulates what your family is hoping for. Bless you guys (even more)!

well put

Jubilee was on my short list for ages, but we didn't have enough girls to bump it up the list. It has great spiritual meaning, plus fits my normal pattern of sneaking in comic book names.

... also if you haven't' been to Zion National park in Utah - it is breath taking! Now that you named him Zion - I think you are obligated to take him there!

I am not really religious, but going there is certainly a spiritual experience!

All the best!

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