What Small Thing Do You Treasure?

by Melannie Svoboda SND on July 14, 2014

The Washington Post Magazine runs a regular feature entitled “Mine” which invites its readers to share some small object in their lives that they treasure. Every week the Post runs one reader’s contribution which includes a picture of the object, a brief essay on its signigicance, and the author’s name, age, and occupation. Here are a few samples. 

A 41-year-old museum specialist shared a red and black clay figure she made as a 6-year-old. She called it Little Man. The figure is meaningful to her because it is a “personal affirmation that I could do wonderful things.” A Holocaust educator, 45, shared a small portrait of his grandmother as a little girl painted in 1912. The portrait was hanging in her apartment when the Gestapo came with pistols and took her husband to Dachau. Her quick thinking saved the rest of the family. As the author holds his young son up to see the painting, he tells him, “This is the woman who saved your life and the lives of all her descendants—and when you’re old enough, I will tell you her story.”  A third example is a combination lock for a locker. It is old and worn but its owner, a 74-year-old physicist, still uses it on an exercise room locker where he works. He writes, “Funny how you get attached to something that becomes a part of your life without realizing it.”

apron

The kind of apron Mom wore.

The articles inspired me to reflect on some of the small things in my own life that hold special meaning for me. One such thing is one of my

My Dad's old lunch pail.

My Dad’s old lunch pail.

mother’s aprons. I often use it when I give talks, for it is a beautiful symbol of my mother’s love and caring. Another thing I treasure is my father’s old dented lunch pail. I keep it on top of the file cabinet in my office. It too is a concrete reminder of my father’s love and his daily hard work.

I visited the Czech Republic in 1995 with my parents and sister. While there I bought myself a small (2 in. by 1 1/2 in.)  blue and white cup. It’s so pretty and it puts me in touch with my ancestry, for the Czechs are noted for their fine pottery. The cup also calls to mind a wonderful trip where I met relatives I had never seen before. The cup is tiny which means I can easily take it with me when I move from place to place.

While reflecting on all of this, I wrote this short prayer about small things:

Small things…a cup…an apron…a lunch pail,

a spoon…a scarf…a hoe…a snapshot…a ring.

Not worth much by the standards of the world,

yet deeply treasured for what they mean to us.

My tiny cup from the Czech Republic.

My tiny cup from the Czech Republic.

Perhaps they evoke a special moment in our childhood,

a mother’s love…a father’s daily toil,

a grandfather’s devotion to gardening,

a grandmother’s fidelity to the only man she ever loved.

 

Jesus appreciated small things too: a fine piece of wood,

a sturdy rock…a lost coin…a cup of wine.

He valued a patch of lilies…mother hens…tiny seeds…

fives loaves and two fishes…

and two small coins clinking into the Temple treasury.

Let us ask this Jesus to make us more mindful of our personal history,

more appreciative of the ordinary,

and more grateful for the small things in our lives

that mean so much to us.  Amen.

 

Now it’s your turn. Survey the objects you have. Is there any small object that holds special meaning for you? If so, I invite you to tell us about it…

PS: This week I’m facilitating a retreat at Chiara Center in Springfield, Illinois. Please say a prayer for both the retreatants and for me! I would be most grateful!

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen Magiera July 14, 2014 at 5:33 am

Great reflection sr. Melannie .

One of the small things I treasure is my grandmother’s engagement ring. It reminds me she is with me when I wear it. Even though she passed away many years ago, I still ask for her prayers when I am in need. That ring let’s me know that she is watching over me.

Kathleen

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Michelle Authier July 14, 2014 at 6:55 am

Dear Melanie, Reading the reflection you gifted us with, this Monday a.m., I am delighted to find you and your site. I love the missalette “Give Us This Day.” And I try to get acquainted wth those who contribute daily reflections. THANK YOU, Melannie, and YES I am putting you and your retreatants in my prayer.
One of the numerous small “relics” I hold dear: a book of poems, one of my very dear old sister gave me: “Besr Loved Poems” edited by Neil Philip. She LOVED poetry, and could recite them from memory by heart…She died short one month to 100.
Of course, I have MANY “in memoriam” little treasures. :-)…tnhe older I grow, the more “markers” I enjoy.

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Michelle Authier July 14, 2014 at 7:04 am

Thank you! ONE of my many “relics” I hod dear, is a book of poems, given me by one very dear older sister: “Best Loved Poems” Edited by
Neil Philip. She comes to life in my heart’s memory each time I enjoy its rich content.

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Dan Wagner July 14, 2014 at 7:31 am

When my grandmother passed in 1988, my son was born that year. When I was asked if there was anything I would like of Grandma’s, I asked for the bird shaped candle holder that I use to this day when I pray the rosary or other prayers. It reminds of the loving kindness she gave all her grandchildren like the time she made us pancakes and sausage with real maple syrup which had Grandpa made. The light of the candle reminds me of her and her love for us.

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Suzanne Sayer July 14, 2014 at 9:30 am

I love plants. I have a Christmas cactus that was started from a plant my mother-in-law had–it was her mother’s plant. I marvel at how this living thing ties our generations together. Every time it blooms, I think of how it bloomed for these two other women. I also have outdoor plants that come from my father’s garden. We are a farming family; enjoying these plants ties me to him and all the generations of growers who went before me.

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Patricia M July 14, 2014 at 9:35 am

This reflection is wonderful. 3 things I cherish most are: a little nun doll that my father surprised me with when I was 9. My second is a crucifix and a small replica of Baby Jesus that an IHM sister gave me in grade school, and the third is the breviary cover that belonged to an Archbishop for whom I worked as his secretary. I am approaching 70 years old and these treasures have traveled many miles with me.

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Tom July 14, 2014 at 9:44 am

In my box of garden tools I keep a 1/2 ” dowel pin, 5 ” long, with a rounded top and pointed bottom. It was used by my aunt and uncle to make the perfect little hole for lovingly transplanting delicate seedlings of flowers and vegetables. The memories associated with it make it more precious than if it were made of gold or silver.

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Jean Shott July 14, 2014 at 11:18 am

I have a few treasures – a pair of pillow cases cross-stitched by Grandma, a lamp that was on her dresser, Mom’s darning egg (bet a lot of people don’t know what that is!). I also inherited Mom’s wedding rings. I had them sized and wear them frequently to Church to hold her close.

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Nona Higgins July 14, 2014 at 12:07 pm

I have a framed picture that hung in our family home while I was growing up. When my mother died, it was one of the heirlooms I was fortunate to receive. It is called “Divine Innocence” and the artist was Vilas Mages. It is of a very young Jesus looking upward — so full of love.

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Karen July 14, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Oh my! So many! The tiny little stuffed animal by Dad brought back for me when he went to China in the early 70s. The Mass prayer book with the inlaid statue in the front cover that my Grandma gave me for my First Communion. The calligraphy set that my Dad gave me for Christmas (I still use it). The picture of JoJo, one of my favoritest kitties, making a funny face. The Sea World shirt that my husband bought for me at Sea World Aurora on one of our first dates.

Your story of the holocaust survivor made me remember my parents friend, who occasionally brought his mother with him for a visit. As kids, adults are not very interesting, and old people who are not grandparents even less so, but I was riveted when my parents told me how that little old lady had bicycled her family out of Germany during the war. That may have been the first time I had the realization that old people have a story to tell. Nowadays, I try to seek out & listen to all those stories because they truly inspire, and provide good perspective.

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Skip Meadows July 14, 2014 at 1:28 pm

My Grandmother’s chair and ottoman connect me to all those before me as I pray the Christian Prayer in the morning. My little dog (dog is God spelled backwards you know) sits with me and reminds me that I am loved unconditionally. The rosary my husband gave me 52 years ago for a wedding gift is precious to me also.

Thank you and the other SND’s for keeping me grounded and connected to the special people and things in my life.

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Susan July 14, 2014 at 3:22 pm

I love the Fostoria crystal luncheon plates from my parents wedding luncheon. They were married February 2, 1942. I hand carry them when I move and only use them for very special occasions. They are so beautiful. And I love my father’s rosary. He had when he was a Capuchin monk and I was given it when he passed away in 1979. It is not the things, it’s the memories anchored in our hearts.

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Josita July 14, 2014 at 7:42 pm

I just love your unique reflections. Thanks again.
I have many cherished items, among them, my Dad’s first driver’s license, which in 1915 was a lapel pin. My Mom’ wedding ring which I wear with my religious profession ring, and a few handkerchiefs crocheted around the edge by my grandmother. There are others from special friends and family members that hold dear, also.
My prayers are with you for retreat. Josita

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Sr. Susan Kusz, SND July 14, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Sr. Melannie … one small thing I treasure is very similar to one of yours: I have the mug my mom used to drink coffee every morning — from Poland! The pottery is unique and lovely, similar to your Czech piece. My mom is close each morning as I now drink my coffee from the same cup. How wonderful that something small can hold such meaning.

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Susan Bachner July 15, 2014 at 5:58 am

Sister, thank you for this reflection. It reminds me of my daughter’s favorite book, “The Bunny’s Get Well Soup”. I would read this to her almost everyday. Finally, she would sit on the kitchen floor while I cooked dinner and she would read the book to me. I still have mr copy for our grandchildren and she now has her own copy.

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Cathy Leonard July 15, 2014 at 9:34 am

My mother’s pink plastic cord rosary. She prayed it daily during her battle with cancer. It was old and dirty but beautiful because you could tell it was well used. The day she died I was using it to pray the rosary because she was in a coma and could not pray it herself. She died when I was about half way through the rosary. Since then, the rosary has been mine. I keep it under my pillow and when I pray with it or even just hold it tight, it makes me feel very close to her.

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Kathy Evans July 15, 2014 at 2:26 pm

My Mom grew calla lilies along our garage since we were small children. When she passed away while my Dad was still living and I continued to water them. My Mom had always gotten after my Dad when she was ill to water them. I can still remember her saying tom “Your Father is not getting it done.” So my Dad lived to the ripe old age of 95 (3 years to the day of mom’s death) and while we cared for Dad I continued to water Mom’s lilies. When we sold the house my wonderful husband dug up the plants and brought one to our garden, gave one to our son and our daughter for their gardens. It is a connection I cherish. I have even been able to take the blooms to their grave. I laugh and tell Dad “See we did it!” I see Mom smiling and loving the blooms of our 63 years in their home.

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marianoropallo July 17, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Living with Christ magazine
Ice Tea
my eyeglasses
pencil and paper
sitting with my hubby after a long day

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