The first box is nearly empty now. I have to feel around the bottom of the box to find the next object. I am taken aback to find a set of rosary beads made of rose petals. I recognize this, it was a gift from my mother over 20 years ago. The beads baffle me. I do not understand why they are here. Why would this be something I would bring? Absently, I run my fingers over the beads.
I smell the faint fragrance of dried roses and hear the muffled voice of a priest trying to explain how I should pray, but I cannot understand His words. Much louder and more clearly, over the priest's voice, I hear another voice, my mother's I think, telling me what I 'should' do, should be, should think, should feel--all the 'shoulds' I cannot live up to.
"Please! Take this from me! Papa, I cannot live up to it!" Forcefully I put the rosary in His hands.
He takes it, but says nothing for a moment. "This is not all bad." He finally explains. "In the midst of this, there are values, standards that you have been taught that are good and have served you well. They have drawn you to Me."
"So then, what do I do with it?"
"Allow Me to purify it, to separate the silver from the dross." It is an offer, not a command.
"Please, so it." I find no difficulty in this decision.
I do not clearly see how, but He passes the rosary through the fire. The flames flare briefly with the smell of roses, but then return as before.
Turning back to me, He shows me a simple silver chain, hung with a simple, polished cross. I touch it gingerly, but the unbearable 'shoulds' no longer call out to me. All I can hear now is the soft chime of grace. He pauses a moment, but them places the silver cross on the self by the photo album.
I reach to lift the box, believing it to be empty, but it is far to heavy to be empty. Still unable to see into the box, I feel around for the last object and find a rock.
My laughter cannot be restrained. "Why do I have a rock in here?" Surely this must be a mistake! I turn the unattractive stone over and over in my hands, trying to understand it. Suddenly, the rock splits oven. Inside I can see sparkling, multifaceted crystals of deep purple and blue. A geode.
I remember my grandfather who loved geology and how he would often teach me about his passion when none of the other grandchildren would listen. It was the same way with my other grandfather who taught me about photography.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Him nodding at me. "This stone is a reminder of those who say in you the rare gem that I designed even when others saw only the unremarkable., It is a reminder to you of what I have made in you and of those who saw that as well."
Freely the tears flow down my cheeks as I remember the attention they would pay me, the sense of acceptance and importance they gave me, and how it was belittled by others.
"Put those here," He points to the small table between the two chairs. "So you will see them often and be reminded."
As I do so, He takes the first box from me and folds it up and sets it outside my chambers. "I do not want you tempted to try to move into the guest room." He explains.
I baulk at this for a moment, but quickly realize how right He is to be concerned. He knows me so well.
Tiredness suddenly washes over me. "Papa, may I rest a bit before we continue?" He nods and we walk out to the balcony. Looking about, I notice that the balconies share a common floor and are separated only by a small, unlocked gate. The sight poignantly reminds me how close He desires me to be to Him.