Over twenty years ago, I started a tradition in our family. My oldest niece was graduating from 8th grade and I had thought long and hard about an appropriate gift. Finally, I decided to part with something very symbolic to me.
Forty years earlier, my mother had given me a religious medal which attached to the long rosary I wore at my side when I first became a Sister of Mercy. It was a beautiful representation of Our Lady of Mercy. I cherished it as a precious gift from my mother.
Well, the years passed quickly after 1966. My mother had long since gone home to God — and my old religious habit (dress) was a thing of the past! But that very special medal remained as a cherished reminder of the love, faith and pride my mother invested in me. It rested in a small wooden box on my bureau, with three other medals given at the same time: from my father, my only brother and the Sister of Mercy who first mentored me in my religious vocation.
One morning, glancing into the box, I realized that there were four medals — and I have four nieces and nephews. Here was the beginning of a solution to my search for a graduation gift– for the coming 8 years!
My oldest niece Maureen got the first medal. With it, she received a “certificate” from me. It said:
My dearest Maureen,
This medal was given to me by your Grandmother when I first became a sister long ago. I pass it on to you now to show you that we are very proud of you and that we love you. You are the cherished hope of our family for this generation. All of your ancestors, living and dead, stand behind you with love and encouragement. Thank you for the beauty, strength and hope you bring to our family and to the world around you. May this medal carry with it all the blessings you need for your life.
Eight years later, my youngest niece, Patty, received her “Medal of the Ancestors” — the one given to me by my dear sister friend in 1966. Patty had been looking forward to the conferment with great anticipation for those eight intervening years.
I share the story with you to encourage you to remember all those in your life who, whether by symbol, gift or quiet presence, have “certified” you as loved, hope-filled and strong. Remember those in your own life now who look to you for that “certification”. Of all the degrees, diplomas, and certificates we pursue in our lives, nothing is more precious than to know we are loved and believed in by those closest to us.
Music: Breath of Life – Peter Kater