In December 1988, my first husband and I set out in a Chevrolet Sprint from Detroit to San Francisco – on our way to his next duty station in Hawaii. We tried to sleep in the motel room in Arizona but New Year’s Eve firecrackers kept us awake.
San Fran was new to me so we spent some time walking around. Somehow, we ended up standing outside a pawn shop. I was intrigued since I’d never been inside one. We browsed around for a while looking at a wide range of items. My husband enjoyed explaining what things were and how they worked.
I wandered over to the jewelry counter and was surprised to see lots of wedding rings – men’s and women’s. I asked the store owner to show me a tiny, plain, gold band that looked like it might fit my finger. Sure enough, it fit. I liked it because it was so plain and simple. We bought it for $50.
Over the years of our marriage, I rarely wore the gold band. When I did, I always wore it on my right hand and paired it with some other ring on the same finger, usually rubies/diamonds or a thin, filigree, platinum band.
I kept all my jewelry after our divorce in 1999. My favorite ring became my high school class ring.
In 2004, I began to believe that God had always been calling me to religious life. I did research and visited various religious communities of Catholic nuns. Such “holy” women are considered spouses of Jesus, in a sense. Many of them wear a plain gold band on the left hand.
I entered the hermitage community as a postulant in 2007. In a little wooden box, wrapped in white paper and sealed with a sticker-icon of Mary holding the infant Jesus, I packed the gold wedding band to wear when I pronounced my vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
I kept the box in my dresser drawer for seven-and-a-half months. Occasionally, I opened the box and looked at the sealed paper but I never open it. I looked forward to the day that I would become a spouse of Jesus. The box holding the ring gave me hope that I could endure the trials of postulancy (one year) and novitiate (two years).
As it turned out, the trials were not worth enduring. After surviving months of emotional and sexual abuse, I finally found the courage to leave that place. Part of me felt like a failure and part of me thought, “Well, if that’s what it takes to become a nun, I want no part of it.”
Back home in Norfolk in 2008, the ring (still in its box and sealed in the white paper) went into my old dresser drawer. I couldn’t bear to look at it.
John and I met on July 4, 2009 and went for our first glider ride together two weeks later on the 18th. Although I believe the term, “soul mate,” is overused and misunderstood, I assert we are truly soul mates. Our hearts and souls understand each other on every level – especially in matters of Spirit. We both like to live quiet, simple lives without the clutter of lots of “stuff.”
I told John the story of the wedding band purchased in the San Fran pawn shop in 1989. We agreed it would make a perfect ring for me to wear as his wife.
John placed that gold band on my hand during our wedding ceremony on July 18, 2011 – the two-year anniversary of our first glider ride. We have found new life as individuals and as a couple. We look forward to many years of soaring (highs and lows) through life as husband and wife.
The little pawned wedding ring has found new life, too.