Thursday, February 24, 2011

Week, the eighth

Asking for "a picture of your most treasured item" is an impossible request.
The items that I treasure most in this world aren't items at all. Without hesitation, my faith and my family are what I prize above all else, and their value isn't tangible.
Besides, there is nothing on earth that I would not gladly give up, if required by my Sovereign Lord.

Still...this is an exposé, a challenge, of sorts. And so, we take a deep breath and press on.

My most treasured item is such, not because of what it is, but what it represents.
Dorothy Elizebeth Barnett Sheldon, my paternal Grandmother, wore an Opal necklace that my Grandfather had given her. When I was quite young, I made a comment about it to her and she glibly informed me that when she died it would be mine. It was a beautiful thing, so part of me was delighted at the idea. But part of me was repulsed too, and felt guilty at the delight. I was too young to understand all that an heirloom is.
When I was fourteen, Grandma Dorothy passed away, and shortly after that, my Grandfather gave me the necklace. By that time, I was truly able to treasure it for the memories that it held.
No picture can do it justice.

Although that would be enough, that isn't where the story ends.
Seven years later, in the jungle of Venezuela, I read a book by Isobel Kuhn, titled Stones of Fire. Now out of print, it is a missionary story woven throughout with a metaphor comparing the author's life to a gem being worked by a Master Lapidary. The stone is an Opal.
"Do you know that lovely fact about the opal? That in the first place, it is only made of desert dust, sand, and silica, and owes it's beauty and preciousness to a defect. It is a stone with a broken heart. It is full of minute fissures which admit air, and the air refracts the light. Hence it's lovely hues and that sweet lamp of fire that ever burns at it's heart, for the breath of the Lord God is in it.
"You are only conscious of the cracks and desert dust, but so He makes His precious opal. We must be broken in ourselves before we can give back the lovely hues of His light, and the lamp of the temple can burn in us and never go out." ~Ellice Hopkins

And so, quite apart from my doing, I do have an item that represents the two things that are most important to me, and it is treasured indeed.