Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The butterfly

A wooden butterfly lies on the bookshelf in my room. It's only about 1½ inches in height and 2 inches wide. It is hand-carved, but in little detail, and that is, perhaps, its beauty . I've had the butterfly for several years and, literally, God alone knows for how long its previous owner had enjoyed its simplicity.

The thing that makes this particular butterfly precious is that Maria, who gave it to me, died unexpectedly a very short time later.

Suddenly a simple carving was transformed into a valuable memento.

The things that are really priceless in life are not those of monetary value: they can easily be stolen or destroyed. Rather they are the, perhaps, commonplace objects that have their worth because of the people associated with them.

When St. Thomas More wrote 'Utopia', he described a people who gave gold and jewels to their children as toys, so that, by the time they were adults, they could see them as valueless and something to be outgrown.

Does any magnificent orchid have anything like the importance of a wilted, bedraggled weed, offered by the hot and dirty hand of a small child as "a present for Mummy"?

When there is a fire or a flood or any other disaster, isn't that the time when people complain that they have lost a photograph album? Everything else might have gone, but the item that is really missed is a collection of old photos.

What are the most precious belongings in my possession? What would be the things that I would miss most if they suddenly went missing from my life? Who were the people who made the deepest impression on my life? Why?

There could be some surprises!

God bless,
Sr. Janet