As long as I can remember, I’ve always been drawn to the rosary and the crucifix & prayer beads and ornaments in other spiritual practices. I like jewelry and talismans that serve a functional purpose in addition to aesthetic ornament. Counting prayers and blessings and being mindful of mistakes, and meditating on how to do better next time, are all very important skillsets in which I am lacking.
I don’t attend Catholic mass regularly, and I don’t have a rosary, and I don’t know all the prayers prompted by the rosary format. But when I try to take time to be still and quiet and repeat a mantra or prayer, my childhood training usually takes my mind to the Lord’s Prayer; it’s what’s easiest for me, it’s what I know. Having something in my hand to focus my physical fidgets and keep count is one less thing I have to hold in my head.
The evening I recently wrote about, when I spent entirely too long focusing on the certainty that kids went to bed hungry as a result of technology requirements to attend public school during the pandemic, I felt an overwhelming need to work on that prayer counting skillset. I dug a remnant piece of flannel, some buttons, and thread out of a sundries box and whipped up the most rugged set of prayer buttons you’ve ever seen in your life. If that first set of buttons was a pig at a fair, we could name it Wilbur and hope that Charlotte spins a web. But twenty minutes later, when my eyes were closed and I was praying like the world depended on it, didn’t matter what the buttons looked like, only mattered the buttons were in my hands.
Since then, I’ve been inspired to make all kinds of prayer buttons. Suuuuuuuper long strings of buttons that take about three hours for me to get through. Tiny pocket size strings of buttons that I can fiddle pray with when I have a minute to just sit outside with the sun on my face. Medium length buttons that sit nicely on my bedside table and are more accessible than a three hour sit when I feel less ambitious, but longer than a pocket size when my heart hurts.
The process of making the prayer buttons has become almost as therapeutic as using the prayer buttons, and my life has changed substantially since I made an effort to sit with those buttons several times a day. I can’t promise the same result for anyone else, that’s just been my experience; my life changed substantially when I made a conscious commitment to spend more time in prayer.
More soon, much Love,