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01 April 2011

Charmed Life - Jane's Cross

This is a charm that actually belongs to a necklace that I have had since I was eleven or twelve years old. It is a simple sterling silver cross that I received when I was confirmed in my childhood Protestant church. Growing up, Mom took us to church on a regular basis. We always attended the candlelight Christmas Eve service and the sunrise Easter service and most of the Sundays in between. Looking back on it now I realize that church for me then was a social event. My friends were there and I got to play bells in the bell choir and sing in the junior choir and I ALWAYS played the roll of Mary in the Nativity (because, of course, my name was Mary!). I never really felt the presence of God and spirituality and faith. Regardless of feeling or lack thereof, when it came time, I was confirmed in my church during my middle school years. 

This cross bears significance to me because of who gave it to me more than when and why I got it. All through my youth, a kind older woman named Jane was like a mentor and a surrogate grandparent to me. (My grandparents are still alive and well, but she was like a "church grandma" to me.) She attended our church, and she worked there as a Sunday School teacher. I can't remember all that she did, but her presence in my early church memories is very strong. When I was confirmed, I chose her as my sponsor. On the day of my confirmation, she gave me this simple cross. (On a coincidental related note, my parents gave me a gold crucifix which seems to have been a sign of my coming conversion. Protestants don't generally use the crucifix as a sign of their faith; Catholics do.) When I was younger, I wore it all the time. Then, during my dark period, I buried in the back of my jewelry chest. Upon my exploration into Catholicism, I began wearing the crucifix that my parents had given me, and the silver cross remained in my jewelry chest.

About a year ago, I added this simple little cross to my bracelet. I appreciate its simplicity, but I value its memory more. After I went to high school and then college, I lost touch with Jane. I knew that her health had deteriorated and logic said that a woman who was already old when I was young wouldn't last forever. I sent her a letter at one point early in my college career telling her how much she meant to me, and I invited her to my wedding. I sent the letter in care of her son (who wasn't the world's greatest person), and I have a feeling the letter never made it to her. I knew that even if she was still alive, her age and health would probably have prevented her from attending my wedding. But I wanted her to know how much she meant to me and how important her influence had been in my life. I've never heard from her or her family, and I assume at this point she has probably passed on to a better place. I carry Jane's cross on my bracelet as a reminder of her selflessness and kindness and gentle spirit. Hopefully it will inspire me to live more like she did.

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