Walking Our Faith: 50 blessings
Walking Our Faith
On Tuesdays after the 8 a.m. Mass at St. Mary’s in Breckenridge, we are invited to stay for 30 minutes of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. These 30 minutes of silent prayer and meditation seem to be the perfect way to end the Mass and start the rest of our day.
Last Tuesday during adoration, I finished praying my rosary, sat back in my pew and contemplated the Blessed Sacrament as my fingers absentmindedly toyed with the wooden beads of my rosary.
I was, frankly, feeling a little out of sorts with prayers for my mother to regain her ability to walk after hip surgery and my own search for remote-based work. So I resorted to the remedy that always brings relief when I feel overwhelmed with worry: I count three things I am grateful for.
The main body of the rosary is made up of five decades of prayer beads: one large bead followed by 10 smaller wooden beads. The large bead represents the Our Father prayer, and the smaller beads represent the Hail Mary prayer. Altogether, this makes one decade, which is repeated five times.
As I began to count the things I was grateful for, I found myself keeping track by moving my fingers along each bead. I quickly completed the first decade of gratitude, but could I think of 50 things I was grateful for?
The first two decades were actually easy, counting things like knitting, my dogs and living in the mountains. But by the time I reached the third decade, I realized that I was thinking of and reciting silently the names of people in my adopted hometown of Breckenridge — people who have made this place feel like home over the past six years that I have lived here.
As I recited each name, I brought their face to mind, and I found myself saying a prayer for them, recalling one thing for which they might want prayer.
By the time I had finished all five decades of my rosary, I realized I was no longer just counting things I was grateful for, but I was also counting my blessings. With each bead, I was extending those blessings forward to each person I prayed for.
I believe this is a natural outcome of gratitude. We begin our personal gratitude list as a means to pull ourselves out of a swamp of hopelessness, yet — as it always seems when we meet God in prayer — our lives become better as our prayers for ourselves become prayers for others, as well.
Each item of gratitude grounds us in the present to put things in perspective and balance the scales, as it were. But most importantly, we meet God in our centered selves and appreciate all he has provided.
As we continue our gratitude counting, it occurs to us that we are truly blessed not in just what we have but by the people we share our lives with and the people who bless us with their friendship or simply with their presence because we feel inspired by observing them.
There are many such people in my life who have inspired me spiritually in small and great ways and whose faith has inspired my own walk of faith to be better and deeper.
In fact, even this idea of counting my blessings on the beads of my rosary came to me as I sat in the pew thinking of my friend Barb, who once showed me the card she kept with a list of people she prayed for as she said her rosary every morning. She never told me her exact method, but I thought perhaps it worked to give each person their own bead or their own decade for the bigger prayers.
Of course, you don’t need to be Catholic to implement this method of counting your blessings and blessing others. The use of prayer beads is found in many spiritual practices. Even if prayer beads are not part of your religious tradition, you can use the beads of a bracelet or, as I have done frequently, count blessings on your fingers.
No matter which method you choose, I hope you will make counting your blessings and blessing others a daily prayer practice. Even 30 seconds and recalling five blessings on the fingers of one hand will change your outlook for the rest of the day. Try it now.
It is especially useful when you are feeling overwhelmed and afraid. I believe it is one of the most effective reminders that we are blessed more deeply than we realize and that God truly loves us. All we have to do is take a moment to pause and count our blessings.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking Our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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