To Know the Name of God


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Dear Pope Francis,

I haven’t written poetry for awhile. But, tonight, I was silent for a time, present to the Divine. And this is what bubbled up.

Your friend,



To Know the Name of God
by Kevin Aschenbrenner

I’d like to know your name, God.
Your true name.
Not what we’ve called You,
down the millennia.
Names that, at best, never truly fit
or conveyed all that You are.
Or, at worst,
names wielded as weapons,
of power, and prestige,
subjugation, oppression, and exclusion,
by those who claimed to know Your will,
but didn’t,
and never could.

In truth, I’d like to know your name,
oh God,
if only
to prove to others
for having these feelings,
these knowings,
these soft murmurings,
in my deepest deep,
that I know
but that I can’t explain,
as much as I try.

It would make things so much easier
for me
if you could just tell me Your name.
What should I call you
in the middle of the night,
when worries press and sleep eludes,
so I know
I’m addressing
and not
ceiling fan?
(Which, though, perfectly useful,
is not of much emotional support).

Whisper Your name to me,
I can be trusted.
I’ll keep your secret.
It will be enough
to have heard it just once,
and to know,
it exists.
I would form it silently on my lips,
imagining how it would feel,
to have Your true name
flow through my mouth
out into the world,
a solid thing,
as all words are,
once spoken.
That would be enough.

Or would it?
For, even as I write that
I understand,
that to know Your name,
Your true name,
would be like biting
that fruit
all over again.
Worse, even.
For, should I give in to temptation and speak it,
(which, let’s face it, I would)
I’d not only know too much,
I’d know everything.
In one breath, I’d know You,
and hold
what a child of the cosmos
like me
was never
For if speaking your almost-names, God,
can wreak such havoc,
what would Your true name do?
I cannot be trusted with that.

No, it is better to not know
Your true name,
For I think I understand, now,
why we are not meant
to name You.
For You are not a fixed point that can be penned in by mere words,
You are force and movement,
like gravity,
like love,
sweeping through me,
always present,
when I call out in the night,
or laugh during the day.

You are the Unnamed One
surpassing all names.






  • Such beautiful, raw honesty. Thank you, Kevin!


    • Aw. Thanks, Cathy! Really appreciate your comment. I haven’t written poetry for several months and it was nice to get back to it.

  • Honest, humble, heartfelt—and without apology in a climate that makes it “uncool” to seek God. I love this.

    • Thanks, Renée! I hesitated before posting this one to Facebook as I don’t want people to be putting me on mute with all the God-talk. 🙂 But, it’s an honest glimpse into my day-to-day, and I like to hope it’s non-confrontational and thought-provoking.

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