For my recent 60th birthday I wanted something more than the usual sweater or blouse from my mother. I wanted a keepsake, something to treasure, from her. And so I decided on a cross pendant. While in Texas last month to celebrate the big day, she and I went to the James Avery store and had a wonderful time looking at the many possibilities, trying a few on, and ultimately choosing what’s called the Serenity Cross. It is very simple and lovely, with a tiny dove in the middle.
If you’ve been reading this blog for long you’ll know that I am a Christian, but not the born-again, salvation thru Jesus’ death, all others go to hell kind. I call myself a Christian because I try to use Christ as a model for compassion and love, an ideal of which I fall far short.
When I was at my Shalem residency in March several of the other students and I began a conversation about wearing a cross. It began with my admiring one that a friend was wearing and her confession that she usually felt awkward doing so. I admitted the same and then our rationales began: people will think we’re evangelicals or theologically conservative (not that there’s anything wrong with that; only in our minds); it might be misinterpreted as a fashion statement (yes! remember Madonna’s huge crosses draping her scantily clad body?); or, my faith is private, I don’t need to parade it.
These rationales left us both feeling empty and we began instead to talk about why we might wear a cross: to remind us of our guide, to ground us, to not be ashamed of our faith, to open conversations. So at that point Pattie and I made a pact to wear a cross at least once a week. Over the next few days two other women joined us in this agreement and now a therapist, a general in the Army, a former editor and a church musician are all wearing a cross every week.
I have a pretty gold Celtic cross that I bought in Ireland a few years ago, as well as a couple of others given to me as gifts. But as a way of honoring this commitment as well as my significant birthday I wanted a new one, bought just for these occasions. And I have my keepsake and treasure, from my dear mother.