If you’ve read my first novel, The Australian Pen Pal, you know that the main character, Rachel, stumbles on a cathedral in Sydney, Australia, and buys a rosary in the gift shop. What few people know is that Rachel’s experience is based on my own foray into a cathedral two years ago when I last traveled Down Under. (To find out why the rosary is significant, you’ll have to read the book!) After the trip, the rosary sat on my desk until this past spring when I thought it was time to use it.
I faced two obstacles though. First, I had it in my head that it was important that a priest bless the rosary before I used it. About thirteen years ago, I had bought my mom a turquoise rosary and she had insisted a priest bless it (which we took care of after Mass on a Sunday morning) and that stuck with me. In late May, when I went to visit Father Dave in Indiana, he was happy to bless it for me.
My second obstacle was much more difficult. I didn’t really want to pray the rosary. I know how to do it. I’ve done it; I just didn’t think it worked for me. I continued to keep the rosary next to my laptop on my desk and carry it with me whenever I traveled. But I never used it, instead finding that I needed to clean it periodically because the silver kept tarnishing.
This week I found my answer in Holding on to Hope: The Journey Beyond Darkness (Pauline, 2010) by Kathryn Hermes, a nun who has written several inspiring books that are, to me, about coping with life and making us stronger as we travel through it. She suggests creating mantras and then using each rosary bead to represent the mantra. The mantra can be repeated as many times as needed or maybe just once as a simple reminder.
Finally, something that would work for me. My current mantra (and I expect that it will change in time) is about asking for guidance, helping me go where I’m supposed to go, be who I’m supposed to be, and do what I’m supposed to do. Sometimes I feel slightly out of control and, as I’ve written about previously, letting go challenges me. By having the rosary here by my desk, the mantra on a post-it note underneath it, it’s there when I need it.
Just like life, two years ago I had no idea of the synchronicity of the cathedral I found on an afternoon stroll in Sydney. I thought it was about Rachel and the book I was writing. Now I see it’s something more. The answers we seek, the answers we need, are there for us. Synchronicity always reveals them right on schedule.
Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D., is an international author and speaker about finding hope after loss and change. She is the author of several books including Rocky Roads: The Journeys of Families through Suicide Grief and Ginger's Gift: Hope and Healing Through Dog Companionship. Her first book, based on the suicide of her younger sister Denise, Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Si..., inspired siblings around the world in their survival after a loved one’s suicide. She is the President of the American Association of Suicidology and lives in Albuquerque, N.M. Read more about Michelle at www.michellelinngust.com.