There is something divine about a ring. It’s intrinsically holy for it’s cyclical form, which connotes the eternal and a completeness. Rings may even be a source of magic. A ring is said to have given Solomon his wisdom and Joan of Arc her success on the battlefield. In the story of Aladdin and the Magic Lamp, Aladdin summons djinn from a ring given to him by the Maghrabi Magician.
Rings have curative and protective power. The plague was warded off with rings on which the Holy Family was pictured. In medieval England, cramp-rings blessed by priests cured epilepsy.
As it happens, I was in the birthplace of Solomon, or the Holy Land, when I found my magic ring. Jerusalem is actually incredibly holy and I can see now why all major religions want claim over it. Magic finds you everywhere. People and events just appear to you to show you you’re on your path.
But on this one day, I was fighting with my girlfriend and I was losing my path and sense of self. This happens to me in fights. I question my judgement because I’m so traumatized by the other person being up upset with me. I really get deeply affected in a fight. But we were going to have a talk that evening in attempt to resolve the dispute and I needed to collect my thoughts. Our third friend told me to go take a walk to find my center.
So I went to the Muslim quarter for a good spot to hear the Call to Prayer. I’m strongly connected to that sound. It feeds me. It’s like my daily dose of God. And today I really needed it.
I was walking through the markets when I locked eyes with an old man seated outside an antiques shop. Why I made the connection with him, I’ll never know, as the streets are lined with men perched outside their shops. But I greeted him and we entered.
His shop was a decaying treasure trove of Middle Eastern jewels and gems. Like an old Silk Road souk long-ago abandoned. He said he had been there since the 60s. All the objects seem to have a soul.
But I was actually there for my new friend. We sat on low stools in the back, among the beautiful old things, while he chain-smoked, and we talked. About life, God and love, self-love, stuff that you don’t always dive right into with a stranger, but it felt like we knew each other and had been talking and understanding one another for years. He even spoke like he knew the day I was having, the insecurities I was experiencing from the fight. “You’re highly sensitive. You love a lot. But you have to love yourself before anyone else,” he said. It’s such an old adage. Everyone knows this but how often do we really practice it? Without getting into it, I told him I happened to be was having one of those days of self-doubt. This troubled him. “If I could, I would give you my eyes so you could see yourself as I see you.” He was not only a sage but a poet (I asked him where he got his impeccable English from and he said he’d spent all his years in the shop reading). What a message about the spiritual objectivity needed to overcome our fears and insecurities. When you doubt who you are, see yourself as an old Arab antiques dealer from East Jerusalem sees you. Which is basically an eternal being, complete, with no beginning and end.
Then he took out a jade ring and put it in my hand. “This will protect you and remind you of who you are in this world. And who you are is infinite. Screw anyone who makes you feel otherwise. ” And as if on cue, the Call to Prayer piped into his shop from the streets. And if you think I wasn’t going to cry in that moment, well I did. It was just all too much for me-the stress of the fight, the release of the feelings around it, the validation I was getting in this moment that I am good no matter what, and to screw everyone else. I hugged him goodbye and walked out feeling like I had just met my guardian angel. I felt lighter (I also met a man named Aladdin only minutes later but that is another story…).
I was wearing my ring that night when I went to duke it out with my friend. And I had my own success on the battlefield as I stood my ground, which in the end, cost me my friendship. But it was a lesson in spiritual development for me. What would’ve once ruined a trip for me gave me an even better experience. It’s strange that it took going to this faraway, unfamiliar place to remember who I am.
I don’t think the ring gave me the sight to see myself-but I think the trip and the ring and all the people I met in the Holy Land were life-supporting. They appeared to me as signals to show me who I used to be and how far I’ve come. Someone who can keep her silent center and exist in that quiet, attachment-free space where you are your own source and you are fearless.
I wear the ring on a necklace, every day. As for my friend, we don’t speak anymore. But I don’t think about the broken friendship. I think about my relationship to myself and how I stood in my knowing and self-love that day and from now on, always. A ring also stands for a vow, a bond, a promise and this is my forever promise to myself.