Last Friday, someone asked me (kind of out of the blue): “Do you know what IHS means?” Surprised, I answered: “Well, yes it’s on my Profession Ring and I was told they are the Latin or Greek initials for Jesus Christ Savior.” And I held out my hand to show off the simple gold ring I have worn since making my final vows in 1965. In doing so, I was reminded of how much this symbol has meant to me over the years. Though I don’t think of it a lot, it has always been a quiet reminder that I have been given a special gift of a call to religious life as a Dominican Sister, and that I have given my life gladly in response to this gift, walking with and trusting God with “all I have, all I am, and all I will ever be” in vowed live in a community of prayer, study and service*. (*quote from Timothy Radcliffe, OP).
It was less than a couple of hours later when sitting down with a friend at a restaurant, I just happened to notice the ring was missing on my left hand. I was not aware of it having slipped from my ring finger, and could not imagine how or to where it would have disappeared. Alarmed, I began searching my pockets, my purse, the seat and floor around us. After finishing our meal, we both searched the ground all the way back to the car, around and inside the car—all to no avail. The ring was gone. The search has continued, but with less and less hope of finding it. It was something precious to me, but now something lost!
As I reflected on my deep feelings of loss around this precious ring, I asked myself why was it so important to me? What meaning has it carried for me? It seemed that losing it was causing me to reflect on my graced life, stirring up deep gratitude as memories of sisters, classmates, friends and family, people with and among whom I have ministered, places where I was privileged to visit, live and/or minister came to my mind. So the shock of this loss was now gifting me with a renewed recommitment and an ever-deepening appreciation for all that this ring has symbolized for me. Focusing on the countless precious gifts this life has poured on me these past 50+ years, the pain of losing it is receding. Yes, something lost, but also something gained… Is it time for me to simply hold on to the renewed and deepened meaning and let go of the symbol? Could be, but I am still asking St. Anthony to find it and return it to me if he can! And I probably will keep looking for it.
Have you ever lost something precious and find that in the losing, you have gained something more?