My mother is the one who got me started collecting rosaries, quite by accident. She and my stepfather went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic and brought back many great gifts for me, which they presented to me immediately upon their return. But about 3 or 4 months later my mom came to me with a little box in her hand. She explained that when they were in the Dominican Republic she had purchased one other gift for me, but she was not sure I would like it and so had delayed giving it to me. Tentatively, she handed me the box.
Curious, I opened it and discovered a hand-carved, wooden, one decade rosary. I was spellbound. It was beautiful, and one of the coolest gifts I’d ever received. I sat for the longest time, fingering the beads, studying their shapes, marveling at the craftsmanship. And after a time I noticed that I felt calm. It was in that moment that I understood the meditative qualities of rosaries.
As I’ve said, I’m not Catholic, but I had seen rosaries before. I knew that they were sets of beads that Catholics held when they prayed to God. I didn’t know anything more than that because I had never really paid attention.
But, now, I was paying attention. I didn’t know how to pray with a rosary, so I just held it in my hands as I prayed. It felt like I was more focused when I held the rosary. Feeling the shapes of the beads in my fingers seemed to keep my mind from wandering off as it usually did when I tried to pray. I liked the rosary so much that I started to keep it with me: in my purse, next to my bed, etc. And that was nice, because I would come across it unexpectedly as I was rummaging for my keys or reaching for my alarm clock. Seeing the rosary at these random times of the day reminded me of prayer and my relationship with God, and in that fleeting moment I felt grounded, reconnected.
I don’t remember whether I talked much about that first rosary or not, but somehow, my mom got the message that with this little rosary, which she had been so unsure of, she had hit paydirt in terms of gift ideas for me. From then on she made sure to bring back rosaries from her travels, and soon, other friends and family were doing the same. Over time I have gathered rosaries from all over the world: Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Italy, Spain, Israel, France, England, Hungary, Ireland, and the U.S. I even received a rosary blessed by the Pope as well as a rosary blessed in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. From there I began to develop an interest in other things that people used to pray to God: icons, retablos, prayer boxes, prayer ropes, milagros, Santos, etc. I’ve added those to my collection, too.
So when I heard this voice telling me to make rosaries, well, when I’d had time to really ponder it, I realized that the whole idea was not so far-fetched. In fact, it was kind of a V8 moment: why didn’t I think of that? It was so obvious. And so inspired. And so much from God.