Rings and I have not always gotten along. At age five I swallowed the ring my Aunt Colleen had given me in a plush pink box. I loved it so much that I had been balancing it on my nose during naptime. Its precipitous fall sent me on my first E.R. visit. Then when I was in first grade, a boy named Marcus gave me a plastic ring with a purple gem inside. I accepted it because I thought it was pretty, not realizing its romantic intent. His brother, who was in my class, made fun of me for a decade, claiming that I was in love.
By the time I graduated from high school, I didn’t believe too much in the value of rings. I had no desire to spend $300 on a hunky chunk of metal that would sit in my top drawer. I don’t regret that a bit.
Everyone who graduates from my current training program makes a ring. It is meant to be something durable that signifies the accomplishment that we’ve made. Today was my day to make a ring. For an hour I pounded out the metal that would fit my pinky, to the tune of “No One Loves Me Like You” by Jars of Clay.
I appreciate what this ring signifies. To me, it’s a vow. It’s a marker of belonging. It’s not saying that I achieved something–although the hammering process was difficult, as sometimes the training program has been. It’s about a commitment to a community. The people whom I have been living and working with matter to me a lot. They’ve taught me what it looks like to be team, to be generous, and to live less self-consciously. I want to remember them in my prayers and love forever. Let’s hope that I don’t swallow this one.