The first piece of jewelry that I ever gave to Debra was a necklace; it may have been the first gift I ever gave her. I picked it out all by myself. It was an antique-looking piece with a very small opal in the center. The opal was held by prongs that extended out a little bit from the main part of the pendant.
As we were making our wedding plans, it became necessary to journey from the Mercer campus to downtown Macon, Georgia so we could pick out tuxedos and wedding invitations. We did so and went back to campus. When we got there, Debra realized that the pendant was gone. We looked in the car; it wasn't there. So, we drove back downtown and went into the store to see if anyone had found the pendant. No one had. We weren't surprised; it was quite small. Burdened by the kind of sadness that you get from such a loss, we headed back out to the car. And there, on the sidewalk, I spotted the pendant. It was lying there, opal-side down. Had someone stepped on it it would have been crushed.
I don't know about Debra, but I took that as a sign that we were meant to be together!
That simple little opal pendant, which Debra still sometimes wears, thus acquired great meaning.
Like most people who are in seminary or any other kind of graduate school, we didn't have much money while I was going about acquiring my theological education. I did pastor a weekend church and so brought in a little income. Debra and I held and hold all things in common, so I had to let her know that I was up to something if I needed to lay regular claim to some of our money. So I told her that most of one year I was going to need to keep a little bit of my paycheck for myself.
I had put a small diamond pendant on layaway at a Louisville jewelry store. Every week I would go by the store and give them ten or fifteen dollars. Finally, a few weeks before Christmas, I was able to claim the necklace and put it under the tree. I don't know which was more meaningful to me, giving Debra the necklace or making that weekly payment that reminded me, each time I did it, of how much I loved her.
OK, that was schmaltzy, but it really did make me feel good to do it.
For her birthday this year, Debra said that she would like to have a small, simple cross pendant. I found one. It is a small, simple, silver cross. I gave it to her on Friday, which, coincidentally, was her birthday, and she still has it on. She says that she will probably wear it most of the time. Lots of crosses, I found, come with some kind of ornamentation. I like the simple one, too. It reminds me of simple faith and heart-felt devotion. Plus, maybe the cross shouldn't be dressed up too much. A friend of mine once told me that we had turned the cross of Jesus into something much too pretty. I guess he's right.
Debra's pendants speak of the kind of life she lives: she chooses to keep things simple.
It's a gift for which I'm grateful.