Monday

Identifying with heritage

When I have a spare moment, I like to troll around Etsy to see what's for sale and to see if anyone likes what I'm doing at Writing Places. I have a lot of fun with it. There are so many talented people and it's neat to see what they're doing.

I especially enjoy looking at items that artists and crafters have fashioned from everday things that we have laying around the house. So naturally when I saw a huge laundry tote crocheted from plastic shopping bags, I had to take a look at the shop. That's when I found Mary at Two of Hue. Mary's shop is on vacation right now, but she says that she is in the process of making some eco-chic jewelry.

This is what I got from her:



Isn't it neat? When I suggested that Mary put another one up on her site, she said she couldn't because this necklace was one of a kind. Mary designs and constructs her jewelry from parts of other upcycled jewelry, so each piece tends to be unique.

Mary calls this necklace Sign of Life. It caught my eye because the fish is the ultimate symbol of life in Christianity. This symbol, called the ichthys, the Greek word for fish, was used by early Christians to identify themselves to other Christians. The letters in Ichthys also form an acronym that means Jesus, Son of God, Savior. Do you see why I call it the ultimate symbol of life?

There is some speculation as to why Christians chose to use a fish as their symbol.

The New World Encyclopedia says that it was in protest of the emperor Domitian, who, like other Roman emperors, called himself a son of god. This would have put Christians in direct conflict with Rome; indeed, many Christians died because they refused to acknowledge the emperor as the son of god.

The encyclopedia also says that the fish could refer to "fishers of men" - what Jesus said his disciples would eventually be. It could also refer to Jesus feeding the thousands with a few fish and loaves of bread.

Early Christians may have borrowed the symbol of the fish from the pagan culture that surrounded them, much like they did with symbols of Christmas and Easter. In other cultures as well as in Christiandom, the fish is a symbol of life.

Whatever the reason, I felt while wearing this necklace, that I was identifying with hundreds of years of tradition. I was pleased to be identified with such brave people in my faith's history. I hope that I can live up to their example.