Why I Do Cloth Diapers

My 81 year old Filipino Grandma hangs crinkly and yellowed zip lock bags and latex gloves to drip dry in the garage. She rescues every empty yogurt and takeout container from the recycling bin for indefinite reuse. She only uses napkins, straws, and condiments acquired from fast food places. She yells at us when we try to throw away stale bread saying: “NAKO! If you throw food away you won’t be BLESSED!”

My grandma thinks that I’m too cheap.

Why?

I use cloth diapers.

My grandma sees me washing diapers in the garage and asks me why I’m so cheap. I know that when my Grandma was raising my mom disposable diapers were not yet invented. So she must have used cloth diapers. I ask Grandma and she says that she hired someone to wash the cloth diapers for her.

Grandma tells me, “Last time I visited the Philippines I asked about that one who used to wash the diapers. I learned she already died. I asked your mom if she remembered her. She said she did not.”

Grandma then stares at me ominously, frowning. Maybe washing cloth diapers will lead me to a similar fate.

I started using cloth diapers after deciding to live with more mindfulness. My favorite mindfulness writer, Thich Nhat Hahn does not say, “Stop using disposable diapers” but instead says to use them with mindfulness. When you throw one away, think, “I am throwing a diaper away.”

So I tried that. I found that saying, “I am throwing a diaper away” every time you change the baby, minimum 5x a day or so, and it starts to eat at you. Not hard, but rather like a gentle nibbling on the conscience.

“I am throwing a diaper away” (Guilty feeling).

“But I NEED them.” (Guilty feeling).

“I’m busy. And Alisa is already 2 and Amira is 8 months old so it’s not worth starting cloth diapers now. It’s too late.” (Guilty feeling).

Next change. “I am throwing a diaper away” (Guilty feeling).

“I’m busy! I don’t care! I’m sleep deprived. I don’t care about the environment. I’ll stomp through a field of kittens if it would make my like easier.” (Guilty feeling, times 100).

Next change. “I am throwing a diaper away” (Guilty feeling).

This thought pattern would repeat over and over again with each changing.

I learned that when I tried to battle negative energy, like guilt, with more negative energy, anger, the feelings would just get worse and worse. It was exhausting. With the practice of mindfulness one does not fight his or her feelings but instead has to decide to really feel emotions and then work on transforming them.

Next change. “I am throwing a diaper away” (Guilty feeling).

I inhaled and exhaled and focused on the guilty feeling.

I said to myself, “I know I have a bad feeling and it is guilt.”

Inhaled and exhaled and sat with the guilty feeling.

I thought, “I cradle my bad feelings. I cradle my guilt. I cradle my guilt and forgive myself for my unskillfulness in the past. I did not know better and was trying to alleviate my own suffering. Please forgive me and help me to be more skillful in the future.” I felt better.

Then I bought cloth diapers. I put them on both my kids. Alisa, my oldest, was 50% potty-trained at the time and she went to 100% potty trained 2 days. This included nights, naps and going out. My youngest, Amira was 8 months old.

After making the switch, I save so much money and I’m not constantly taking stinky diaper trash out and filling the whole trash with diapers. Most of the time, I hand wash them and hang them up to dry in the sun. But if I’m too busy I use the washing machine and dryer. And if I’m really, really busy I use disposable diapers but with awareness. I think that some cloth diapering, any cloth diapering is better than nothing. Even if you save even one diaper that is 250-500 years you are saving the planet from a disposable diaper sitting in a landfill.

I never thought I would use cloth diapers. Now there is no more bad feeling and instead I can feel good about saving the planet and myself some hard-earned money. When I change, wash, and dry them I do it with awareness and then every action becomes a source of healing to me.

 

 

 

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The Music Festival

My sister Jane went to a music festival and did not like it. It was hot. There were porta potties. People were smoking. She says, “The people there were not into the music. They asked the audience to sing along and they didn’t except me and my friend. And then people turned around and gave us dirty looks.”

I said, “Well Thich Nhat Hanh would say to focus on things that you do like. For example, the beautiful weather.”

“It was too hot.”

“The beautiful sky then. The music. Your friends.”

“I wish I were somewhere where people are different.”

“But then you would miss what is real and all the good things in front of you. What you are thinking is only a fantasy.”

When I feel down about things in my life I try to remember what Thich Nhat Hanh said:  “You have more than enough conditions right now to be happy.”  We do not have to wait until we die to go to heaven we can have heaven right here on earth. We just have to notice the good things that we do have that are all around us.

 

W.W.J.D

W.W.J.D. or “What Would Jesus Do?” is a popular Christian phrase. It seems so simple but trying to apply it in real life can be really hard. Would Jesus watch Titanic or Friends or read Harry Potter? Finding the answer takes some deep looking.

Let’s try to apply W.W.J.D to watching the show Friends. Should I watch Friends? Should I let my teen watch Friends?

Let’s look at Friends.  It’s funny! It shows this great group of friends.  It’s a secular show so the friends do not go to church but sometimes there are still good moral lessons like the time Phoebe somehow got credited $5000 in her bank account and she decided be honest and tell the bank. When the friends lie to each other, like when Monica starts hanging out with Julie, Ross’ new girlfriends, and lies to Rachael so not to hurt her feelings, they always end up feeling bad and telling the truth in the end.

Although it has some moral lessons, the show is still risqué by Christian standards. Sometimes the friends drink alcohol and have premarital sex.  Premarital sex-big no-no. Casual sex is a bigger no-no.

The Bible sometimes refers to light as truth. Finding the truth takes thinking. It takes awareness, mindfulness and time. The light is a muscle that takes work and maturity to develop.  Should a teen watch Friends? I say sure. But the best way for a teen or anyone to watch Friends is with mindfulness. The ideal situation would been for the teen to watch Friends with their parents. Afterwards talk about issues in the episode such as premarital sex or casual sex and really talk without judgement.  Questions like, “What happens in casual sex when one person get emotionally attached and the other does not want to make a commitment?” There is an episode where Chandler sleeps with Janice and Chandler wants a commitment and Janice does not. Chandler gets really sad. Some people may believe that casual sex is just fine if it’s between two consenting adults who use protection and are up-front to each other about their intentions. But, as we can see in this episode, casual sex always runs the risk of things getting messy emotionally.

Also point out the fact that this show is fiction and does not mean “everyone is doing it” in regards to sex in general.  Watching the show with mindfulness and talking with your teen would be a much richer and valuable learning experience than simply banning a teen from watching non-Christian shows.

We also have to protect ourselves by avoiding images-violent, sexual or otherwise.  Sometimes it’s not worth it to look at a bad violent or sexual movie-if one does not find it entertaining anyway why watch it? It’s just a waste of time and energy. Watching violent or sexual images that serve no purpose will just disturb our peace later on. I would rather save my energy and time for truly excellent books, movies, and T.V shows.

If we isolate ourselves from non-Christian people and things we miss out on some positive people and experiences. My opinion: Friends and Titanic were excellent productions and Harry Potter was an excellent book series. A lot of effort and care were put into their productions. Even though one may not agree with some of the actions of the characters if we view excellent books, movies, and T.V shows with mindfulness and awareness we can guard our minds and build our understanding of the world and other people.

In the Bible, Matthew says that Christians should be a light on a hill. To actually build our light and understanding we cannot completely isolate ourselves from the rest of the world or worse-pretend we are isolating ourselves and then watch a certain movie, T.V show, or read certain books in secret. Honesty is part of that light too.

The light of God is everything good.  It is love, kindness, awareness, mindfulness, honestly and truth. We can ask ourselves what Jesus would do when faced with a certain movie, T.V show, book, website, or conversation. Asking this can help us know when to pass something up and when to view or partake with mindfulness. And afterwards, we can talk to one another about it with kindness and the intent to help. That is an art which will take a lifetime of practice. Doing these things will build the light in each one of us.

 

 

 

Say Yes

In yoga, the teacher was saying about how we need to “say yes” to yoga and really do our best not just go through the motions and have that “at least I’m here, what else do you want?” attitude. He said say yes to yoga and say yes to everything today.

But we can’t say yes to everything, it’s impossible! For example, if we say yes to sleep that means we have to say no to phone, T.V, computer, work etc. I think the key is not just saying yes to everything but saying yes or no with strength and commitment.

Say yes to sleep and really say yes: drink hot milk, chamomile tea, pray, meditate, take a warm bath, and go to bed early. And really say no to everything else: turn off T.V/computer a few hours before bedtime, silence phone and say goodnight.

It seems to me, life is so much more that “at least I’m here.”  To go beyond, put power behind actions.

Should I Throw Away All My Makeup?

“I’m going to throw my makeup away.” This is me calling my best friend, Ly, on the phone.

“What do you mean?”

“I am literally going to throw every piece of makeup into the trash. Why do we feel the need to wear makeup anyway? It’s anti-feminist.”

“What! What about your Urban Decay Pallets?”

“Yes.  Even the Urban Decay Pallets. Especially the Urban Decay Pallets.” My voice is curiously even and calm. I am a cold-blooded, determined super-woman.

“What about the Mac?  The Mac! Allison! Are you there?” Ly’s voice is getting more and more panic-stricken. I start to feel my resolve waver.

“Oh right. The Mac.” I pause and look down at the rainbow of Mac eyeshadows in their individual disks spread out like little candies. “I’ll call you back.”

“Don’t hang up! Why are you doing this?”

“I danno…I’m trying to clean. I read this book…”

“Oh, you and your books again. Promise me you won’t throw anything away until you call me back. At least save the Mac….. and the Urban Decay.”

“Fine, fine. Ok bye.”  Ly lets me hang up the phone.  Gone is my super-woman resolve. It’s as if she just talked me down from jumping off a cliff.

In front of me is my entire makeup collection.  Every last lipstick and lonely single-serving sample has been fished out of drawers, purses, medicine cabinets, coat pockets, and glove compartments. It’s all here.

How did I get here? I read Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s a housecleaning book about getting rid of massive amounts of stuff.  Kondo says that after doing the method herself her house is spotless all the time and she lives like a true minimalist. To decide if you should keep an object, hold it in your hands. If you feel a spark of joy, keep it, if not, discard it.  Kondo has minimalized to the point that she does not even own pants.

I was cleaning my bedroom and had gotten to dealing with my makeup.

First the easy stuff: I threw out some free samples of nearly-empty lip-glosses. I trashed some cheap eyeshadows that were not any good anyway. I chucked some brownish lipsticks that were majorly unflattering. All cuticle pushers, the toe separators, the lash brush and some brushes that are missing most of the bristle also go into the trash. Easy. Now I’m left with just the good stuff. I’m about to start organizing the rest when suddenly this overwhelming feeling takes over my body. My inner voice screams, “I don’t want any of this!”

What? How can I be thinking this?  I holding a purple Mac eyeshadow in my hands.  This is my favorite eyeshadow called “lilac ice.” I’ve worn it so many times this is my third time repurchasing this exact shade.  I try to read what I am feeling. What do I feel? Anxiety.

I think, “I should wear eyeshadow more. I should look up YouTube makeup tutorials and get good at it. I should wake up earlier in the morning to put makeup on before work on a daily basis.” So much to do! So much anxiety! How do I get rid of this anxiety? Should I throw Lilac Ice into the trash? But it’s my favorite!

How did I get here?

In junior high and high school, I looked at the other girls with envy. They got to wear glitter eyeshadow, black lipstick or paint their nails blue while my parents wouldn’t let me get away with anything more than cherry ChapsStick. It seemed that everyone got to wear makeup except me. Other than a 99-cent Wet and Wild brown lipstick that Ly and I shared in 6th grade, I wore zero makeup in junior high and high school.

I started wearing makeup at the riper age of 19. I went out of state to college got a job at Hooters. At Hooters, makeup is a requirement. The male manager explained how he wanted us to look: “Light blush, rosy, sun-kissed cheeks.”  The Hooters girl is the All-American, girl-next door. I immediately went to Victoria’s secret to get a makeup lesson.

The clerk explained, “This is how you shade. You don’t want to look like you got punched in the eye!” The lady was so nice and fun. I felt like I was going through a womanly rite-of-passage.

At first, putting on my Hooters Girl face took me 30 minutes. One slip of the fingers and I would accidentally smear something.  I had not yet mastered the subtle art of dabbing away mistakes with an oil-soaked make-up remover pad and Q-tips. More often than not, I would have to scrub everything off and reapply from scratch.

Day after day, swipe after swipe and muscle memory built up. After a month or so, I got to the point where I could apply in foundation, blush, concealer, several shades of eyeshadow and mascara in about 5 minutes flat. I could probably do it in the dark if need be. Muscle memory gave my hand a mind of its own.

With makeup I could make my eyes look huge and my skin flawless. My face became a piece of art.  Some people may think that Hooters Girls are hired for their appearance and not for their brains.  But creating that appearance takes a lot of brain power! At the time I liked to think of myself as an artist with my body being a walking and talking piece of art.

Eventually I left Hooters and became a nurse. My nurse face had to be kicked down a couple notches from my Hooter Girl face.  I would wake up 10 minutes earlier to apply powder, liquid concealer under the eyes, blush, and lipstick. Somedays days I would add eyeshadow and eyeliner. I had to cut out using mascara because it made my eyes bloodshot by the end of a 12 hour shift. Some days it was so bad that I have to use a syringe full of saline as an eyedropper to rinse my eyes.

We often hear the advice, “Just be yourself!” This is easier said than done. What if we don’t know who we are? What if we don’t know how to be? Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn phrases this “Just be yourself” advice in a more helpful way. In his book, Zen Keys, he states that the goal of spiritual practice is to “see into one’s true nature.” So to determine if one should do a certain action, like wear makeup, consider if that action allows you to better see your true nature.

Does putting on makeup allow me to better see my own nature or does it do the opposite? Looking at my face with makeup, I know that it is not my true face.  Instead, it’s an image of what I have seen on T.V, magazines, movies, and the internet of what beauty should be.  So, what is beauty? Is it colored eyelids, rosy cheeks and big eyes?  With that look I am trying to say to the world that I am young, fresh, and beautiful. I am trying to be those things on the inside so isn’t it okay to say that on the outside with makeup?

Let’s take a deeper look. What are the real elements of that look? I know that sometimes makeup means red eyes and saline syringes after a 12 hour shift. Makeup is money and time spent shopping. It is loss of sleep waking up early to apply makeup. It’s skin issues such as acne and blackheads from wearing makeup for hours on an everyday basis.  It’s having to buy facials, masks, pores strips, washes and creams to remedy those skin issues and the time and money for those things. It is makeup stinging the eyes when you sweat and not wanting to touch your own eyes and face. Is pushing your husband away with irritation when he wants to kiss you and mess up your lipstick. It is sometimes feeling insecure and ugly without makeup. It’s the sense that when I’m wearing makeup and someone looks at me they are not really seeing me. Maybe sometimes I want to hide behind a makeup mask.  Maybe sometimes I want to be the prettiest girl in the room. Maybe sometimes I want people to feel jealous.  Facing the truth can be ugly sometimes.

Facing the truth about makeup-the ugliness, the sadness, the grease, the grit- I put Lilac Ice and my remaining makeup in a shoebox. I consider throwing everything away but something is still holding me back. I put the shoebox on a high shelf in my closet and try not to think about it for now.

Weeks pass. I let my makeup-less face show to the world. Slowly the sense of guilt, obligation, and apology fades away. Someday I feel like my natural freshness and beauty are shining through. Other days I feel tired and older. I think about the shoe box. Maybe if I throw it away it will make me feel better about myself. Maybe I will feel free.

One day I take the box down and hold the makeup in my hands to see if they will spark joy or anxiety.  Thoughts come into my mind.

Makeup is also that kind lady who helped me at Victoria’s Secret.  It’s Ly and I trying on brown wet-and wild lipstick in 6th grade, giggling and thinking we were so cool. It’s putting makeup on for my wedding day.

Attachment to the body and thinking it is our true self is one of the errors of being human and one of the goals of spiritual practice. In any case, the physical body-with or without makeup- is not really our true self.

Fast forward to now. I put makeup on maybe once a month when I want to dress up and go out with friends or my husband for a fancy meal.

If you put makeup on with joy and love- love for yourself, love for others, love for the world- and you do it with mindfulness and kindness to your physical body and emotions then, in that case, you are also putting makeup on your soul. So I kept my makeup.  For my soul.

 

 

 

Let it Go

Reaching for our toes in yoga class, the teacher says, “Try to let go and reach further. Just let go!” In life too, she says, we should also try to just let things go.

My instructor says she was mad about something that happened a few days ago between her and her husband. She tells us, “I’m just going to let it go. There is no point in staying angry just to make him suffer!”  We laugh.

But sometimes letting go it not easy! We can tell ourselves, “Just let go!” till we are blue in the face but sometimes we just can’t do it.  After class, I go talk to the instructor. I say that in my marriage when I can’t let something go, I find it helpful to write my husband a letter. She asks smiling, “But do you ever send the letter?”  I say, yes. Maybe I don’t give him the first draft-I look it over and cross out and change some things so that the letter is loving and nice but still expresses what I am hurt about.

I got the letter idea from Thich Nhat Hahn’s book The Art of Communication. He calls these letters “Peace Treaties.” The basic form is: “Dear___, I love you but yesterday you did/said___ and now I am suffering. Please help me not suffer. Love, __”.    Also, Hahn says that in writing the letter to try not to blame or shame the other person and use loving speech.

When I first started writing these letters my husband would say, halfway joking, “Great, hate mail!” He looked at me kind of funny and was probably thinking, “Why are we writing letters, can’t we just talk?”  Yes, we can talk. But sometimes I want to write a letter! Writing a letter helps me slow down so I can say everything I need to say in the way I want to say it. Also, the other person can read and absorb the words at his or her own pace.  Sometimes we talk about it afterward and sometimes my husband writes me a letter back.

“Don’t go to bed angry” is common marriage advice. Maybe it comes from the Bible since the Bible says not to let the sun set if you are still angry or hurt. Thich Nhat Hahn says do not be angry longer than 24 hours. I think this 24-hour rule is good advice. It seems to me, if you let bad feelings sit there, it can create a kind of poison. Poison that can make you feel bad when you are cooking, at work, and just going about your day. It can even be there when you kiss your spouse.  Who wants to give/receive a poisonous kiss anyway? The only way to really ‘let it go’ is to neutralize the poison with loving communication.

Sometimes we want to toughen up and pretend something does not bother us. I know if I am hurt and angry about something 24 hours later then I really need to say something about it. This toughness, when we say, “I’m not hurt!” when we really are hurt is really just our pride talking. In true love, we have to put this pride aside and open up our heart to the other person.

Instead of saying, “Just let it go!” we can instead say, “Just write a love letter!” If it bothers you enough to write it down it is worth talking about. Loving communication is always worth the effort. One might worry about getting into an argument and making the situation worse but if you stand firm in really trying to communicate with mindfulness, deep listening, and love you will always move the relationship in a positive direction. These type of love letters are true love letters. Because you know what? True love takes work. Like reaching for your toes in yoga, we sometimes have to reach in relationships beyond our pride and comfort zone. In the moment, reaching feels good and bad at the same time, but mostly it feels good and makes you keep feeling good the rest of the day. The reach is what will make your love grow.

 

Rosary

I visit my grandma and come home late. I see her sitting in the dark, staring through the window waiting for me, rosary in hand.

Seeing grandma with her rosary late at night reminds me of the spinsters of fate. In Greek,  mythology, three spinsters weave, tie, and cut string. In doing this, they influence the destiny of mankind. Disney’s Hercules has a depiction of these spinsters. The movie shows that when one of the spinsters cut a sting, a human dies on earth.  My Grandma, like one of the spinsters, goes down a string of rosary beads praying for her family and trying to better their fate. I guess I’ll be worried if I ever see her with a pair of scissors.

When I was in Catholic Saturday school, called catechism, our teacher once made us go into to the main church and say an entire rosary out loud. When she announced this in the beginning of class there was an immediate outcry of “The WHOLE thing?!” She hushed our complaints marching us straight over to the church and onto to the kneelers.  Between the incense making my nose run like a faucet (I had bad allergies and asthma as a kid), having only one soggy napkin to try to catch aforementioned running nose from dripping down my mouth and chin, my teacher angrily hissing at me to pay attention and keep up, and the endless, endless Hail Marys, this still stands out in my mind as one of the most miserable experiences of my childhood. It took the entire class time, an excruciating 60 minutes, to get through the rosary. Right now, my nose is starting to run just thinking about it. Ah, the rosary.

The next year I had a different catechism teacher who was wonderful.  For a class project, she had us make our own rosaries. All the girls got light pink see-through beads that could pass for crystal until you touched them and found they were warm and plastic.  At first, everyone in the class was frustrated since the beads were slipping through the knots we had tied to act as spacers. The beads were even slipping past double and triple knots. You see, on the rosary the Hail Mary beads have to be separated from the Our Father beads. That way, you know what prayer you’re on just by touch. It’s like Hail Mary/Our Father braille. With a properly tied and spaced rosary any experienced Catholic, like my grandma, can pray through the entire sequence in the dark.

After catechism, I took the rosary project home and redid it with waxed dental floss.  The wax and thicker string kept the beads in place.  The next week, my teacher brought different, thicker sting for the class but was really proud of me for finishing the project so well on my own.  After everyone fixed their rosaries we all got to take them to the priest who blessed each one with a dab of holy water. I loved that rosary.  My new pink dental-floss rosary helped me get over my first miserable rosary experience. I started praying the rosary on my own.

Remembering all this makes me want to make another rosary for myself and make more to give away to my Catholic friends.  I can make some for my husband and his family too since Muslims also use prayer beads.  Their prayer beads are called a Misbaha or Tesbih.  A Tesbih is made of 99 beads.  Muslims say “Subhan Allah (Glory be to God) recited 33 times followed by followed by “Alhamdu lila” (translation: Praise be to God) then “Allahu Akbar” 33 times (translation: God is the Greatest. Even if there is more beads, this is so much shorter and faster than the Catholic Rosary. Makes me kind of jealous actually. Maybe I’ll make a Tesbih for myself too. Many other religions use prayer beads including Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Bahai. I wonder which religion has the least number of beads.

The family connection part of the rosary is major for me. My grandma has been praying the rosary for years.  Like me, she probably learned it from her parents and from growing up in the Catholic Church.  Prayer is something a parent teaches their child and it’s taught usually before bedtime. At least, that is how it happened during my childhood.  I remember my grandma’s black rosary, the statue of Jesus sitting on the shelf in the walk-in closet, and a glow-in-the dark a crucifix hanging on the bedroom wall. During bedtime, these objects would be cast in dark shadows and we would ask what they meant.  We would ask about heaven, God, and all those things we didn’t know and wanted to know before we went to sleep. My grandparents and parents would explain God to me. As Catholics, they used these objects- the cross, the statue, and the rosary- to try to reach my young mind in understanding the great beyond. I imagine it was just like their parents and grandparents explained God to them… and their parents did for them… for generations and generations.

How long have generations in my family been doing this? My family on my mom’s side is Filipino and Catholicism was brought to the Philippines in 1521 so that’s about 500 years, more or less, of my family being Catholic and praying the rosary. Long time. When did the Catholic Church start using the rosary? The rosary itself was started in the 3rd Century.  That is when St. Dominick started the practice after seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary who told him to introduce the rosary to the Church.

Some Christians criticize the practice of praying the rosary as being too Mary-centric. After all, its 50 out of 59 beads for Mary. In addition, there are points on the rosary where one is to remember the different biblical stories-called “mysteries” which are significant biblical stories featuring Mary and Jesus. So that makes the rosary even more Mary-centric. Because of the focus on Mary, when Christians separated from the Catholic church during the Protestant Reformation the majority of Christian denominations dropped the rosary practice.  When I started going to Christian Church in High School and asked one of my teachers about the rosary she told me we should not be praying to Mary since she was a human and is not God. Besides, who knows if the Mary sighting that St. Dominick reported is really true.  Critics point out how people during that time had a desire for “goddess worship” since the religions of that time had prominent female goddesses. Mary and the rosary conveniently filled this void. These days, many modern sightings of the Virgin Mary, like Mary’s image found on a piece of toast, are often just hoaxes.

It appears to me that the Catholics’ aim in giving Mary such a prominent role is to show the love a mother has for her child.  No matter if you’re Catholic, Christian, any religion or no religion at all, everyone can understand that titanium-strength bond that is the love between a mother and her child.  It does not matter if the child is God himself, a prophet, or just another human being.  For a mother that child is the most precious being in the world for whom she would lay down her own life. In the movie The Passion of the Christ, there is a scene where Jesus is dragging his cross and he stumbles and Mary rushes to comfort him. A flash-back scene is played that shows Jesus as a child falling down and Mary running to comfort him. When mankind can start to imagine this love-the greatest love and bond that we humans can experience- we can then attempt to imagine God’s love for us.

The purpose of the rosary is simple: it is something to feel in your fingers while you pray. The beads of a rosary, or any prayer beads, are something to feel in your hand as you attempt to connect with the divine. Although we can pray or meditate without any objects having something to see and touch can be helpful. The rosary can be a physical tether, or an umbilical cord between heaven and earth. If you Catholic, you can imagine whoever taught you the rosary like your teacher or parent.  Then you can imagine who taught them- their teachers and parents.  This can reach backs for generations and generations and centuries and centuries. Soon we go all the way back to the third century when the rosary was invented. When you touch the beads saying the same prayers that your parents, grandparents, teachers and priests have prayed before knowing that the tactile feeling of bead between your fingers is the same feeling they that had it is as though they are praying with you. Millions of people. Your whole family, past and present, your friends, your church, the saints all connected in a web of rosary beads and string. All us thinking now or having thought long ago of our own lives, of family members, friends and the world and wanting everyone to be safe and well.

This makes me think of people in other religions who use prayer beads. For me, I feel that they are also part of the web when I pray. They also call to God with an open and loving heart. They have that same tactile feeling of beads and string as they meditate on God and wish blessings on their family, friends, neighbors and the world.

Here another rosary story. It is 10 years after making the pink rosary and I am 20 years old.  I am at my grandpa’s funeral.  My uncle concludes the service by leading us in reciting the rosary.  It’s been awhile. I’m grateful for learning how to pray the rosary in Catechism so I can keep up with everyone else. I find the repetition extremely comforting and beautiful.  On that terrible, sad day the rosary perfectly tied everything together: tradition, family, grief, life, death, God and eternity.  Everything was all tied together with rosary beads and string.

The rosary can be a powerful thing.  A powerful thing that can give you much needed strength and comfort at a funeral, at the bedside of a sick loved one, or during any difficult time in your life. The rosary can also just be for those everyday nights.  Those nights when you are waiting by the window for your child, now grow up, to come home.