Last week I shared a conversation starter question
that ignited a lively discussion.
Readers shared three things they most cherished,
three things they would clutch in a fire.
I promised to share mine. So here goes.
My first choice:
I was wearing this ring on my right hand while I tried
to choose my three most cherished things.
Its physical attachment to me already was an advantage.
If I survived the fire, so would this jade ring!
But why does it deserve to be on my list of three?
Because the stone was a gift from daughter Kate, who brought it back from China when she studied abroad.
Because the setting was designed and created by Judy Wenig-Horswell, professor of art at Goshen College.
Because the President’s Council team, the vice presidents who served with me, commissioned the ring as a gift.
In other words, the ring connects me to family,
to Goshen College and its core value of global citizenship,
and to the faithful service of beloved colleagues.
My second choice was straight ahead of me also.
I know, I know. I cheated. A view is not a thing.
And I don’t want to pick up the deck and carry it off, either.
What I love is the experience of being inside the natural world
close to farms, with birdsong sound track, resonating with those lovely mountains.
My friends recognized the nature of this love and encouraged me
to commission a thing — a painting that can go with me if I need to leave this place some day.
Finally, I moved inside to find a third thing.
There it was on the kitchen wall.
This collage tells the story of one special summer night when Kate and I
sneaked out of our house during a full moon,
feeling a little transgressive, wearing night clothes as we walked on the warm sidewalk past other houses.
Kate’s idea of making art with a sewing machine was influenced by another precious piece on the opposite wall in our kitchen:
“And the air . . .
it was like breathing the sun,
breathing the color of the sky.”
The words and colorful image warmed my heart then and continue to inspire me.
Kate had admired Erma’s 1997 piece which hung in our Goshen house.
So five years later, just after 9-11, when she was in her first semester of college,
she created the work of art I cherish most.
Having an object into which to pour love means that it attracts
more words, more art, and more love.
Behind the golden frame of Kate’s moon collage is a large cardboard pocket.
Inside the envelope is Kate’s written artist statement from 2001.
When I found other treasures, of the right size, I knew where to put them!
This one in Anthony’s early cursive writing means the world to me and lives in the pocket.
We baby boomers are being told that our kids don’t want our stuff,
both in the media and often by our own children.
I have a hunch, though, that if we and they pick out some items,
and write some stories about why we cherish these things, we could have some great conversations now
and the family will value at least a few heirlooms when we are no longer here.
So why not get started here in the comment space?
Can you tell a story about one cherished thing?
Have you created any kind of guide to family heirlooms or history?
Which piece of art do you cherish most? If you placed an envelope behind it, what would go into it?