5 August 2010

Found things

I have always had a bit of a soft spot for "found things" - items that just arrive unplanned at the right time. I'm also a fairly ruthless thrower-away: when I decide to sort out an area in my house, the plan is that at least two thirds of everything I touch is going to disappear, either into the bin or to be cleared out. Hubby hates it when I get into a sorting phase because unless he's really quick with salvage efforts all sorts of things disappear, never to be seen again!

But back to found things. One of the most interesting "found things" is a ring that I wear: a plain 9ct gold band, completely unmarked. Dad found it one day in our garden when he was doing the weeding. We don't know how it got there, or who originally lost it - we turned it in to the Police and they tried to find an owner for over a year but eventually returned it to us when they had no luck tracing its previous owner, and Dad gave it to me. I have never had it sized or fitted in any way, but it fits the third finger of my right hand as though it was made for me. I was originally planning to use it for my wedding ring, but we ended up getting a wedding ring made to fit around the curve of my engagement ring, so it languished for a year or so in the bottom of a box.

I started to wear it regularly when I became a Franciscan novice in 2002: I know that most religious orders do not wear a ring until final profession, but it was part of my reminder to myself of my commitment, as TSSF did not have a habit of any kind and I didn't get the Profession Cross until 2005. It's now been on my hand for nearly 8 years.

The reason the ring has come back into my mind is that I am preparing for solemn profession with the Community of Solitude, and have been quietly organising things for the ceremony. The most difficult to organise, from New Zealand, is the cuculla, a long black pleated robe, not dissimilar to an academic gown (except it goes all the way to one's feet) that solemnly professed Benedictines wear in choir/church. The Community sent me details of an Abbey in America that could make it, but it was going to be hideously expensive to make and then ship over here. Instead, I've been looking for someone over here who had the skills necessary to make it, and one of the ladies in our parish is doing it. She has done lots of liturgical sewing, and made our gorgeous baptism gown for our daughter, so I know she'll do a great job!

Then I've been writing my vows - we write a short explanation of our journey and part of it is used in the vow ceremony. I've also been contemplating the ring issue - do I, or don't I, change my ring? I could get my current ring engraved or embossed, or changed altogether. But I've just realised that my current ring should stay.

I finally realised last night, though, that my "found ring" is a bit of a metaphor of my journey. It came to me. It wasn't expected, or planned - it just arrived. It has been part of my hand for many years. It has acted as a reminder of my call. My vocation wasn't planned either (at least not by me!) - it just arrived. It has been part of my life for many years, and I have been exploring what it means. I have travelled with it. It's a bit scratched (like the ring!) - it's not pristine. It's been marked by my life. I have been shaped by my vocation, just like my finger has been shaped by wearing the ring.

I don't know when the ceremony will be. I have to wait until after the Franciscan chapter meets at the end of this month to finally release me from TSSF; after that, it will be as soon as we can organise some time with the Bishop. I doubt it will be a Sunday morning, which is a shame - the Bishop told me last year that his Sunday mornings are sewn up with visits to parishes "until the Second Coming"! But we might be able to do something in an evening, or Saturday.

Well, I supposed I'd better get on with something. I'd love to hear if any of you readers have stories of "found things".

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