hands clasping rosary in prayer

A Piece of the Holy Land

 February 28, 2023

This year for Christmas, our pastor gave parishioners rosaries he had brought back from his visit to the Holy Land. The rosaries were made by nuns out of wood from trees from there. I grabbed my rosary that night and said, “I’ve got a piece of the Holy Land!”

The Rosary

I’ve long given up on rosaries, physical rosaries not praying the rosary. For those unfamiliar with the rosary, it’s a form of prayer beads. The prayers are all scripturally based. You start with the Apostle’s Creed, which is the crucifix. Single beads are for Our Fathers, or The Lord’s Prayer. Groupings of beads represent Hail Mary’s, a prayer based on the angel Gabriel’s words to Mary, and Mary’s cousin Elizabeth’s words to her when she visited.

There are five decades (ten beads) of Hail Mary’s in the rosary. The beads help you keep your place in the prayer.

The way I see it though, God made fingers long before anyone made a rosary. Ten fingers are perfect for keeping track of the prayers of the rosary. No need to worry about losing my rosary in the bed sheets at night as I pray. No frantic searching to find it. I pray the rosary on a daily basis, when I wake up in the wee hours of the night, but I use my fingers, not a rosary.

The Importance of Place

So why did I accept this rosary? Because besides being a means of prayer, it connected me to a land miles away and a time long ago when Jesus walked this earth.

There is something powerful about having a physical piece of a place. Place is important. That’s why countless people over the centuries have made pilgrimages to holy places. Sure, you can pray wherever you are at any time, but there is something about getting out of your ordinary routine and place and going someplace holy that impacts our spirit on another level. These are sacred places where one can experience the holy. People have been making pilgrimages over the centuries to the Holy Land in order to walk on the land where Jesus walked. To touch ground that Jesus touched.

A Piece of the Holy Land

My daughters recently moved to Australia with their families, including four of my grandchildren. I gave one of my daughters one of these rosaries to keep for my granddaughter, the sole girl so far out of nine grandchildren. Though they are far away, there is a link, a connection through this holy place even though my granddaughter may not recognize it. She now has a piece of the Holy Land, too.

I don’t know that I will ever be able to make it to the Holy Land, but I now have a piece of it, hanging from my bedframe. When woken at night and beset by fears and anxieties that I can’t seem to chase away, I touch this rosary, pray, and I’m comforted. The prayers comfort me, and touching something that touched the land where Jesus walked comforts me as well.

What about you? Do you have items that are sacred to you? Maybe something from a deceased loved one that reminds you of that person. I’d love to hear about it.

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