BY BRIAN DOYLE
The first person to bless my rosary was the priest who used to be my parish priest. He retired finally and now he is a utility man, as he says, filling in where needed.
You would be surprised at how many games you get to play even when you are a bench player, he says. He blessed my rosary in my office, cupping it in his huge left hand and blessing it with his right. You want to use your power hand for a good blessing, he said with a smile.
The second person to bless my rosary was my sister. She is a nun in a monastery near a huge river. She cupped it in both of her hands as if her hands were filled with holy water, and she bent her sweet grinning face down over my rosary, and prayed silently over it, and then draped it over my head as if she was presenting me with a prize, which she was.
The third person to bless my rosary was a small girl in sage country. She is six years old. Whatever it is that we call the creative force that made us all and can be seen most unadorned in children beams out of this kid with the force of a thousand suns.
She put my rosary on top of her head and held it there with her right hand as she put her left hand on my face and said I hope these beads will always have holy in them for when Mister Brian needs it, which is a very good blessing, it seems to me.
The fourth person to bless my rosary was my archbishop, who is a most excellent guy, honest and funny, with an ego the size of a worn dime. He asked me to hold my rosary in both hands and he held his hands over my rosary like a gentle tent and said Lord, we ask your blessing on this rosary, that it always be a conduit for your endless mercy, a highway for your endless grace, a path for your endless love, which is also a very good blessing, I think.
The fifth person to bless my rosary was my mother, who is ninety and bent over and has tennis balls on the legs of her walker so she can move more quickly. She leaned forward at the kitchen table and moved the butter aside and took my rosary and said Let’s go right to the Mother on this one,
I have always found the direct route refreshing, and she smiled the wild alluring smile that still rocks my dad when she aims it at him, he says it’s like someone flashing high beams at you suddenly on a dark road, and she said Mary, holy one, I ask your blessing on these beads and this boy, that he always brings his light to bear against the dark, and then she handed the rosary back to me and flashed that song of a smile and said now be a dear and get me the milk.
The sixth person to bless my rosary was a friend of mine who is a minister on a moist island and has two tattoos where he can see them easily all day long, practice resurrection on the inside of his left forearm and what we need is here on the inside of his right forearm, both lines from the Kentucky visionary Wendell Berry.
The minister and I were driving in his truck and we came to a stoplight and I asked him to bless my rosary and he said sure and pulled over by a laundromat and cupped my rosary against his sweatshirt and prayed over it silently and then handed it back to me with a smile; as he did so I read his right arm and thought of St Catherine of Siena’s remark, all the way to heaven is heaven, which would also be an excellent line to tattoo on your forearm, I think.
The seventh person to bless my rosary was an abbot with whom I was sitting by a pond, the two of us engaged in what he calls dragonfly prayer, which consists of watching dragonflies quarter the pond very carefully for a while, until, as he says, your appreciation of the incredible work of the creator is recharged.
We do this once in a while when I am bleak and dry. One time he called me when he was dark and weary and asked me to come out and sit by the pond with him, which I did. When I asked him to bless my rosary he said sure and he stood and held it out over the edge of the pond and prayed silently and handed it back to me and we watched the dragonflies for a long time.
The eighth person to bless my rosary was an ebullient friend of mine who is a nun and used to be a roaring drunk and says she still is although she doesn’t drink anymore.
She blessed my rosary in a coffee shop and like my mom she went right to the Madonna with the request. She says she and the Madonna are the best of friends from way back and they talk twice a day and when you are desperately thirsty She is the cool clean water that saves your life, trust me, and I do.
The ninth person to bless my rosary was a small priest who was sitting on the porch of a villa named for the Madonna. He and I were watching parrots in the enormous gum trees, and he pointed out a wallaby in the leaf litter, and when I asked him to bless my rosary he did so silently, with his eyes closed, and then he told me about blessing rosaries for the children he used to teach on the island, some of those rosaries were made from seashells, he said, and some from galip nuts, and more than once I saw rosaries made from bullet casings.
The tenth person to bless my rosary was the woman who played the violin at the funeral of the mother of the woman who married me. That violinist played that violin so passionately, so deftly, so delightedly, that when I went over after the funeral to thank her and express my amazement at her amazing grace I asked if she would bless my rosary, because it seems to me that the more people who bless your rosary the more mercy and joy and grace are in the beads, perhaps, and she smiled, this violinist, and stood up slowly from her wooden chair, which had a cane hooked on it like you would hold someone’s elbow, and she touched her bow gently to my rosary, and said quietly Lord, may there always be your glorious music in this rosary, which is a wonderfully pithy and eloquent blessing, it seems to me.
Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland. His books include Thirsty for the Joy: Australian & American Voices.
Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.