Earlier in the week I polished silverware, preparing to welcome friends for a special occasion. And I thought of my sisters, both now fully with God. This silverplate set was their wedding gift to us. It was a very big gift from two students in a family whose daily dinners featured stainless flatware earned through grocery-store promotions.
Wedding gifts can keep on giving long after the event. All gifts feed my gratitude for the giver's presence in my life. Wedding gifts are particular, though. They often express the specific era of the wedding. In them flows the tide of all that fresh hope and love, and all the unexpected places where the tide has carried us. They are tangible reminders of the vows we made and the richness that has filled our lives as a result.
I notice these gifts and others every time I use them – but more so right now. I’m deep in thought about a gift I’ll give next month.
A treasured friend will make her commitment as an associate member of a congregation of women religious. This will be her first-ever longer-term, formal, public commitment of her whole self.
What gift might carry for her the same sacramental Spirit through decades ahead?
She and I are no longer 20 years old, in need of vases and flatware. And vases and flatware are preparation for a particular kind of life. That’s not the life she looks toward.
In contrast to when we were 20, she and I have many more chapters in our inner and outer lives. Each past chapter speaks its part in carrying her into this new commitment. At this point in life, we’re well aware that commitments carry us in unexpected ways.
She has great depth of spirit. Plus great elegance and style.
What fits this moment in her life, the still point at the center of her past and her hopes?
Something small and portable, maybe even useful, and perfect in its simplicity? Something full of the exuberant grace of celebration? Something that mirrors her humility, joy, intelligence, and courage in this moment? Something that honors her having stepped into the unknown, having given it time to become known, and now trusting it with her life? Something that delights in her openness to this particular community? Something that says I see the continuity between this commitment and her long history as a healing presence at the heart of a wounded world?
Any ideas? I’d really appreciate your insights.