Emerald of the Isle
Every day I wear a very special ring that was passed on to me by my mother, from my great grandmother. It is an emerald (pictured above), set in a silver setting with a gold band. It is elegant and beautiful, but has endured much. Since it has come into my possession I have had to reset it once, because the gold band wore thin, and the prongs needed to be replaced.... You are probably wondering what all of this has to do with true love ~ but this ring reminds me of my grandparents ~
My grandfather loved my grandmother very much, and for my grandmother's birthday, on very special years, my grandfather would buy my grandmother an emerald ring. My grandmother's birthday is in May. I remember one year, he told her he wanted to buy her this very special emerald ring, but he wanted her to pick it out. So where-ever we went, she would look and look for an emerald ring and every time she looked, she could not find one she really liked enough, given the cost. So, we would always end up looking at another place some other time. This went on for about a year, until one day, she saw the beginning stages of the ring that she liked. I do not remember where she found the ring, but I do remember my grandfather and my grandmother looking at rings together, and he kept telling her to get the ring that she liked. Eventually, she finally said, "but I don't really like any of these, I would like to have a ring with an emerald in the middle and diamonds - with diamonds on the side or that wrap around it. But none of these rings have that with the clarity of the emerald that I like." What my grandfather knew was that my grandmother's parents gave her an emerald ring when she as younger, that was a dark green. It didn't have diamonds on the side, but was square, like the one pictured above in a very simple, plain gold setting. She kept this ring and only wore it on special occasions or when she got dressed up for a special event, because she was afraid something would happen to it. She always wore it on Christmas. She had another emerald ring either from her sister or her children that were two circular cut emeralds side by side with a plain gold band. Eventually, for one of her very special birthdays, my grandfather bought her another emerald ring, to show his love for her, and how much she meant to him. Later, as they were in their seventies, he would buy her her third emerald ring (the one I remember them looking for). Eventually, I remember him saying to her, "if you don't see the ring you like in the display, then ask them if they can custom make it for you" and so, with his encouragement she did. She explained the ring design she wanted to the jeweler. I remember towards the end of this visit the jeweler said to her "you have to be very careful with emeralds... if the heat is put on them, too high, they will fracture, they will crack, they will break and you will be without a stone. You would have to pick out and pay for another stone, another emerald, and start again." My grandmother thought more about this, and about the design, and went home.
Now my grandmother and grandfather, who survived the great depression and always spoke to us of rationed goods, knew very well the weight of the cost of this ring if the emerald chosen cracked, fractured, or broke during the setting process. My grandmother thought about the setting, and told my grandfather to never-mind, that she didn't want the ring. My grandfather, an overall quiet and peaceful man, looked down, and with his head down, walked away ~ he went down to his space and his desk, and stayed there most of the day, cleaning his desk and contemplating. Around dinner, he came back up stairs, and after all of us eating together, and having dessert, he started to get the dishes ready to be washed and started washing the dishes, while my grandmother continued to put the left-overs away. I stayed at the table doing my homework, while he began to wash the dishes. He asked my grandmother about the coffee she bought and which kind she was going to have in the morning with her breakfast, and after she answered, he said, Jeed (a nickname they had for each other), I love you... I want to get you the ring...get the ring...just make sure it is the setting you want. She just looked at him, and shook her head a little bit in astonishment, finished putting the left-overs away, and then went downstairs to the laundry. The next day, we went back to the jeweler, and they ordered the ring. It took weeks for it to be completed and done. When we went to go pick it up the jeweler said, "we had a little bit of a hard time, but she withstood the pressure of the heat we applied to it, and the pressure of the setting very well. Here she is." My grandmother, who usually wasn't very shy, shyly took the ring, and tried it on, to see how it looked. She looked at it and the way the light reflected the color - she inspected it to make sure all the stones were set well, and that everything was just the way she had described she wanted it to the jeweler...it was perfect.
The story of this emerald, is itself like the story of true love. Although my grandfather knew the cost of the emerald and what would happen if it indeed broke, he trusted my grandmother's judgement, yet encouraged her to accept what he wanted to give her. He always fostered her to grow in deeper love with him but also to grow in her own self. This made both of their spirits free to be exactly who God wanted them to be for themselves, for each other, for their families, and for the world. The story of the emerald is also symbolic of true love because when the heat and pressure is put on, true love always finds a way of taking the best yet also unique path for that love to endure and survive, and be radiant with light. Ultimately, what mattered more than the setting of the ring, was the love with which my grandfather told my grandmother to be sure of what she wanted, and his reassurance that what she really wanted was exactly what he wanted to give her, which was not the ring itself, but the deep love he had for her in his heart. That deep love that encouraged her and empowered her to dream of the setting she thought would work best with the emerald. When I remember this story of the emerald, I think about how many times they had conversations in this manner and in this way. How many times before they walked down the aisle to say yes, how many times before they made a decision together or individually, and how many times this always reflected their love for each other. I am reminded that they weren't afraid to tell each other or to show each other that love, in the little things, and in the big things. I am also reminded that no man is an Island... and that the best Isle to live in and on... is the Isle of someone's heart ~ that, is true love. The Emerald for my grandparents was symbolic of the Isle of each other's hearts, where their love for each other loved and thrived. The Emerald was symbolic of their hearts, and how their hearts ~ paired together radiated true love, created a life together, and radiated light to everyone else. Also I learned that people are more important than things, because it was the love they had for each other that was most important and the expression of that love, rather than the ring itself ~ That is the Emerald of the Isle.
.....I am blessed because my own ring, from my mother's side of the family, as well as the memories I have of my grandparents, remind me of this everyday....