Baby Name: Ashley
Gesture: I will pray for the child, the young mother, and the young mother's mother; and if ever I find myself in a similar situation, I will ask God for the strength to OPEN MY MOUTH and speak up in defense of a helpless life.
Story: Once I overheard a woman in a public place berating her daughter over the cellphone; loudly ordering her to "get in the car right now" with some other relatives to go and get an abortion. She must have seen my expression change in reaction to her "conversation," which went on for several minutes; she also must have misinterpreted it completely--or I suppose I may just have a somehow very sympathetic face--because, once she ended the call, she turned to me and began the kind of "kids today!" sympathy-complaining that mothers often do with each other in public when they have a "shared moment" of "child exasperation." I am ashamed to say that I was almost literally tongue-tied; I could do nothing but play the role the woman wanted me to play: sympathetic ear. This, as she went on with her exasperated (but weirdly congenial) rant about her daughter "getting in trouble" and how she had "raised my children; I'm not gonna take care of another one!" I said nothing, as that woman justified the murder of her own grandchild to a perfect stranger.
Why did I say nothing? Why did I nod as if in sympathy and give that woman a listening ear for this generational insanity? I don't know. I also don't know if the young woman (her daughter) had the strength, ultimately, to say no to her mother's (and other family members') pressure to end the life of her child. I'll never know. But in honor of that child I did not even try to defend, I offer this name.
Because this was (is?!) a specific child whose life I actually encountered, and I have no way of knowing whether it was a boy or a girl, I offer a name that suits either. The ash tree grows straight and tall, and is an emblem of strength. In the Bible, the ash tree that Abraham plants grows against all odds to be mightier than any other, and there he "called upon the name of the Lord." Ashley means "a clearing near an ash tree." I wish that child peace, and strength, and a relationship with the Lord. I offer a sunlit meadow, near the strong and mighty ash tree; a place to call upon the name of the Lord.