Recently I laid down a decades-long teaching career and embarked on a sabbatical journey of preparing for a new retreat ministry. Just this past month, I gave my first weeklong retreat, “Trinity and Community: The Mysticism of Creation” where we explored the Book of Creation using the lens of science to understand and hopefully imitate the ways in which God calls Creation (including we humans) to build community (a.k.a. the Kingdom). Starting with the Big Bang (a.k.a. the Flaring Forth), we examined several levels of increasing complexity, called sciences, until we reached the most complex form in the universe, ecosystems.
Since the retreat, I have begun reflections on how common everyday objects or events from my daily life contain this universe story. The following story tracks the universe story of the gold in my maternal grandmother’s wedding ring, which I inherited from my family upon my religious profession in 2005.
After the Big Bang, the genesis of the first nuclei occurred as the universe gradually cooled, but only the elements hydrogen and helium and a little lithium were part of the universe. No gold anywhere!
The gathering of those elements, driven by gravity, produced a relatively massive star, whose nuclear fusion produced not only light, but many more elements up to iron, including, but not limited to: carbon, oxygen, neon, silicon, sulfur, calcium, too. Still no gold!
At the end of that star’s life, gravity prevailed as fusion ceased. A supernova event, signaling the death of that first-generation star’s life, created the gold that eventually became my grandmother’s wedding ring! This final violent explosion of this first star released that gold into the universe at large. Now gold, but still no earth!
Slowly over time, gravity regathered this gold and other elements then present in that locality of the universe into a new solar system, whose third planet, earth, became the residence of at least some of that gold. (Perhaps, too, other nearby suns produced gold in supernovae of their own, which also became part of the gold on the earth.) Now gold in the earth, but it is inaccessible to humans!
That gold then migrated inside the earth in the viscous circulation of the mantle for a long time until it migrated near the surface and became part of the crust of the earth. Sometime in the early 20th century, miners extracted it. Gold now near the surface of the earth, but still no ring! (Ironically, my mother’s family produced a number of coal miners who worked in Wilkes-Barre, PA.)
After an artisan purified it from other elements using fire (see 1 Peter 1: 3-9, especially verse 7), s/he carefully mixed with other elements to form a more durable 14K gold. After shaping it and sizing it to fit my grandmother’s ring finger on her left hand, the artisan etched it with delicate, beautiful designs on its outer surface and a message of eternal love on the inside: “F.P. to A.P”…from Francis Puseman to Anna Puseman. Finally, a gold ring, symbol of perpetual love, one that I wear today as a sign of permanent commitment to my religious congregation, continuing my grandmother’s sense of loyalty to love!
In the coming days it will be my happy privilege to attend the final profession of one of our sisters from Kansas, Sister Margaret Uche, OP. She, too, will receive a ring, a symbol of God’s everlasting, faithful love to her and to her commitment of love to God’s people and to the Dominican Sisters of Peace. As she commits to our religious congregation, I and others there will pledge our own support of her commitment.
Please join us for Sister Margaret’s perpetual profession, on Sunday, July 31 at 10:30 am CST/11:30 am EDT by tuning into the live-streamed Eucharistic Liturgy and Rite of Perpetual Profession of Vows from our Great Bend Motherhouse Chapel in Kansas. Please click here to watch live on YouTube. Or, you can click here to join the celebration via Zoom or copy and paste the following link into your browser: https://DominicanSistersofPeace.zoom.us/s/87483677310. Webinar ID: 874 8367 7310.
What tugs at your heart this summer?
Is God tugging at your heart? We invite you to come and listen with others who are in discernment about religious life at our next Come and See Retreat in Akron, Ohio on September 23 – 25, 2022. For more information and to register, click here.