My mind likes to wander, keeping my thoughts on a subject for longer than 15 seconds can sometimes be a challenge. My short attention span wreaked havoc on my ability to complete a Rosary until the Holy Spirit inspired a perfect plan for my brain. The beads on one of my favorite rosaries slide. As I was fingered my way through the prayers, I thought how it sort of resembled a Chinese Abacus. Suddenly, I thought, “What if I use each bead to as a counter – creating a ‘spiritual abacus’?” My idea was to recall a particular person or intention as I moved from bead to bead.
Being a very visual person, I actually picture the person or where they live. That often leads to my mind shifting to, either another person in the same house, or another intention related to the same subject matter. Soon I found myself organizing intentions from decade to decade – praying for 10 women having babies; 10 neighbors from my childhood, or 10 people in need of work or new jobs. Before I knew it the Rosary was complete, and I had remained on task the entire time. The best part, much needed prayers had been offered for at least 55 people – though that count was typically much higher as multiple names would sometimes pop into my head half way through the Hail Mary!
The ‘Spiritual Abacus’ mindset worked wonders to keep me focused (most days), however, there were still lots of external forces in my home vying for my attention. One day the Holy Spirit showed me a great way to overcome that obstacle as well. As I sat down to be the first prayer in a 54-Rosary Novena, I had a nudge to head outside to walk and pray. At first I chuckled to myself at the thought – I do not DO outside. There are bugs and air (which can sometimes being very cold or oppressively hot), not to mention walking on the roads near my home can be dangerous. Since I could not shake the nagging desire to get outside; I obeyed hence launching my now (nearly) daily Rosary walk habit.
Quickly I discovered that not only could my rosary walk help me focus but could also help answer my prayer to become a healthier me. I could even use my Rosary to keep track of my exercise time. A Rosary typically takes about 17 minutes to recite, most people aim to move 20 to 30 minutes a day – this equals (roughly) a rosary and a few extra laps. One Priest I know prays all four mysteries on his walk helping him reach his hour a day goal. I’ve never been that ambitious; but I have been known to add a Divine Mercy Chaplet and /or an express novena of 9 consecutive Memorare prayers (via St. Mother Teresa) now and then.
Better than Counting Sheep
One of my sweetest childhood memories was the sleepovers at my grandparent’s house. The only trouble was my bedtime separation anxiety. My dad’s parents lived almost an hour away, so bringing me home at 9 p.m., was not an option. My wise and faithful Grandma Perry had the perfect solution. She would hand me her Rosary, and tell me to pray it to fall asleep. “Great idea Gram! It is really boring and I will be out like a light in minutes.”
Actually, her plan was far more holy and helpful than that. She wasn’t giving me the rosary to bore me, but to empower me to be brave and fill me with the peace I needed to sleep. Grammie knew the power of prayer, especially to our Blessed Mother!
So, I would pray it and it would help me sleep; though the next morning there was sometimes this guilty feeling that I fell asleep before finishing all the prayers. Gram had an answer for that as well. It was her belief, and mine now as well, that if we fall asleep praying our dear Guardian Angels finish the remaining prayers for us. To this day if I am struggling to fall asleep because I can either not calm my mind after a busy day or I am traveling and my sleeping arrangements are less than idea; I pull out my trusty Rosary and pray!
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017