This will come as a shock to no one who knows me, but I’m not much of a jewelry person, unless you count the hair tie that’s always on my right wrist. I don’t try to coordinate jewelry with my outfits because I don’t really have “outfits.” I have jeans and t-shirts and Toms or Chucks, and the hair tie matches all of it.
I’m exaggerating a bit, but truly not by much. I have pieces I wear all the time and never take off, that’s my “thing.” I wear one bracelet, one necklace, and one ring – and the ring I don’t even wear because it’s too big, and so I put it on my key ring and carry it around with me everywhere.
My dad bought that ring in Afghanistan during one of his deployments, and since he didn’t often come back from deployments with trinkets for us, that ring is special. It’s silver and flaked with some kind on blue stone. It looks painted on, the blue, but if you look you can see a hole where one of the stones fell out. It was hand-crafted by an Afghan jeweler, and I think it’s pretty for that reason alone. But, I have narrow fingers and it’s just too big and when I almost lost it walking across the Target parking lot, I slipped it on my key ring and there it remains.
I find that ring sometimes when I’m twirling my keys standing in line at Starbucks or at the movies or wherever, and I always send up a prayer when I do. I pray for the dads and moms that are deployed, and I pray for the daughters that are home. Because I think the soldiers and marines and sailors and airman need all the prayer they can get while they’re away, and because I know the daughters do. Because it’s not easy when your dad’s away, even if you know he needs to be there, doing the job he’s doing, even if you’re super proud of him for being away. It’s just not easy.
The bracelet I wear, it’s from Haiti and it’s been on my wrist for two years. It’s just braided cord now because the bead fell off at a softball practice last summer and I never found it despite the time I spent searching. It doesn’t matter though, I still won’t take it off. It reminds me of Joel, one of our translators, who tied it there as the team and I were packing up our things, minutes from leaving for the airport to head back to the States. “For you,” he said in English thick with Creole, a wide smile on his face that left me no choice but to smile back. “You come back, please?” And then he hugged me, and I cried a little. Because Joel and Haiti and God had woven their way into my heart deeply that week, to the point that I can’t think about one without thinking about the others, and now I have that braided bracelet to remind me. And I pray almost constantly, “I go back, please?”
Those pieces are special to me, but I love my necklace the most. I’ve worn it every day since I bought it for 40 pounds on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. It was the only thing I’ve ever gotten for myself on any trip I’ve taken overseas, and at the time it felt like a splurge. I was a new college grad taking a year off before going to grad school and every penny mattered, but I was on a trip with my best pals and it was an important week and I wanted to mark it for myself somehow. So, on the Royal Mile I bought a Celtic cross that looked like one of the crosses in one of the cemeteries in the town we stayed, and now it reminds me of that trip and the way that God can turn your friends into your family if you open yourself up to the possibility.
Clearly, I don’t wear jewelry for the sake of wearing jewelry or for the sake of making an outfit, though I knew people who do and I envy the way that they are so pulled together. But, I don’t really do “pulled together” well at all. I don’t do it in dress and I certainly don’t do it in life, because I think and process and analyze too much to make “pulled together” happen. All this thinking, though, gets me connected and intentional and purposed. It gets me my dad’s ring, and Joel’s bracelet, and my Celtic necklace. And those are things I can live with every day.