Monday, December 27, 2010

The Ring of Truth

Weeks of engagement ring shopping later (catch up with this story here), I was trying even my own patience. Dave had asked me to marry him in March, and we were coming up on May. Telling people I’d gotten engaged had been fun, but the “Let me see your ring” part, followed by an embarrassed silence, was getting old. I began to see a “setting event”—or two, or three—in my future.

Luckily, Dave actually dug this about me—my search for meaning, my perseverance, my recently discovered, don’t-settle-for-second-best attitude. Made him feel special. Plus, with his two natural children, two adopted foster children, and a divorce that registered on the Richter scale, he’d been engaged with his own search for meaning. “You’ll find the right ring,” he said. Note the “you’ll”—even he had dropped out of the search.

I finally stopped in to see the local jeweler, from whom my first husband purchased my engagement ring. I’d hoped to avoid the location (reference breaking old patterns, in my last post), but short of daytrips to larger cities, which my schedule would not support, my options were running out. I ordered a ring on spec—a round diamond surrounded by a gold swirl that required a matching band. It was a little different, a little artsy. I convinced myself it would be just fine. Since the first ring had been bought there, the jeweler even offered to give me half of the original purchase price with a trade-in.

But I had settled, and the relief of calling off the search wasn’t enough to keep that knowledge from eating at me.

That night a friend from church, also recently engaged, told me about the place where her fiancĂ© had bought her ring—a location that had somehow ducked beneath my radar. Slapping on a smile to brighten my voice, I told her that I had no need to continue shopping. I already had a ring on order; I was done looking.

“Go to Engle Jewelers,” she said.

Hadn’t she been listening? I said, “I just told you I ordered a ring today.”

“Go to Engle Jewelers,” she repeated. There was a resonance to her tone I couldn't ignore, like Moses channeling God.

When Mr. Engle unlocked the next morning, he found me waiting at his door. I scanned his display—by now, all rings were blurring into variations of the same half-dozen styles. And then I saw it, in the back corner of the case.

I immediately recognized what I’d been looking for all along: a braided band with strands of yellow, rose, and white gold. A symbol of a blended family. I hadn’t seen anything else like it. The matching engagement ring had an oval cut solitaire.

Once I’d found it, everything about the purchase was easy. Mr. Engle offered to let me borrow the wedding band for a week, wear it, and make sure I liked it.

"Really?" I said. "How much money do you want me to put down as collateral?"

"Just take it. I trust you."

I insisted on producing my driver's license for photocopying, just in case I could be held legally culpable for taking advantage of a kind and generous jeweler.

At dinner that night, I showed the ring to Dave, and explained the meaning it held for me. When I asked him if he would wear a matching band, I think his answer held as much emotion as mine did when I said I’d marry him.

Then, another bonus. When we placed our order—not the following week, but the very next day—the jeweler honored the full purchase price of my first engagement ring as a trade-in. This was twice what the jeweler who had made it had offered! When I mentioned this, Mr. Engle assured us that the value of diamonds and gold did not diminish with time. I admit it was hard to part with my three-stone ring; I had loved it so. But there was meaning in that, too.

My ring still reminds me that in order to move on with our lives, we must take the best of the old and keep weaving it in with the new. So when Dave and I did marry, there was one aspect of my first wedding I did not change—my best friend, Ellen, once again served as my only attendant. She has been an unconditionally supportive witness to my flawed yet ongoing search for what is real and true. In church that day, it was she who handed me the colorful threads of gold that I would place on Dave's hand, to match mine and symbolize our union.

When we hear those "important" messages, how do we know their source? I had a few conflicting messages arise recently about the writing of my memoir. More about that in my next post. Until then, Happy New Year! May you take the best of the old and weave it in with the new.

FYI: Regrettably, Mr. Engle retired and closed his wonderful jewelry shop.


Kate Brandes said...

Thanks for another great post.

Kathryn Craft said...

Thanks Kate. I like the pic. Are you commenting all the way from Spain?

Kate Brandes said...

We leave tomorrow!

I'll stay tuned in Spain:)