Sunday, June 02, 2013

Saying My Beads

The Rosary was never a part of my religion when I was growing up, but it was always a part of my life. Our neighborhood was almost exclusively Roman Catholic, and in the late afternoon, the older folks used to go to  their quiet corners and pray the Rosary. I saw them everywhere, but I was probably 20 years old before I even touched one. I loved the feel of it.. The smoothness of the beads, The light, but barely perceptible weight. The gentle discipline of the circle. The rhythm of the beads as they flowed from 10 to 1 to 10 again. Much later, after I had joined an Episcopalian church, I learned how to say these ancient and simple prayers. When I pray the Rosary, I feel connected to God. I also feel connected to all the people across the world, across the ages who have ever "said their beads." at the beginning or the end of the day. It is a true act of communion to pray the Rosary.

Traditionally, the prayer is a devotion to Mary. The Hail Mary is repeated again and again. Each row of 10 beads is called a decade, and there is a specific mystery upon which you meditate for each decade. Another part of the tradition is the flexibility of the prayer. St Francis changed the Rosary from 5 decades to 7 so he could meditate on a specific set of mysteries from Mary's life. The Rosary I use is one of these Franciscan Crown style, and while I often pray the traditional prayer, I have recently taken to including other subjects for my meditations.

Yesterday, I prayed for myself. That I might find God's will for my life at work, at home, in my community, in my family That I might grow in my spiritual life. That I might increase in wellness. Today, I prayed for others. For Mrs P. For the people at the Y and church. For my fellow survivors and fellow runners. For the animals I have known and loved. For my friends, my sisters, my mom. I had lit incense before I started praying out on the back porch, and as my fingers walked slowly along the string of beads, my thoughts rose like the smoke. In my imagination, I see that smoke travelling across the miles to touch the people I love like the Holy Spirit, the sweet, life-giving breath of God.

The words of the prayers, the circle of the beads: these are the discipline of the Rosary. To begin is to make a commitment to the devotion. I'm not sure I've ever started one and not finished it, though I have lost my place from time to time, and even nodded off to sleep. My fingers know the path, and my heart follows. As I make my way out of the recent darkness where I found myself, I will travel this ancient road, a little wooden bead at a time, back toward light and faith. Remembering Francis. Remembering his faith and child-like devotion to his heavenly Father, I try to trust God to guide my prayers and my life. It isn't always easy to trust, But having a few simple rules to start the day helps to focus my spirit a little. I choose the rules of the beads. They begin and end at the cross of Jesus. I pray that the same may be said of my life.


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