Two summers ago I led a group of students on a travel seminar to South Africa for 2 weeks. Half the time we spent at a convent/ retreat center near Cape Town. My assigned quarters were in the main building, right across from the business office and gift shop. Before I left I bought a beautiful wooden rosary. It was a robust rosary with a cross that fit perfectly in the palm of my hand and golden brown beads, joined together by thick pink twine. I’m a Protestant, and while I understand the rosary’s purpose to enter into the devotional life of Mary whose focus was Christ, I used it as an aid to intercessory prayer for my students. Every morning I would pray the names of each of my thirty students. I would meditate on the Holy Spirit’s presence that unites them even though they are separate individuals with unique qualities walking divergent vocational paths. When not in use my rosary was draped over the back of my red “prayer chair” in the corner of my study.
Which is where Buck found it yesterday and made it his super bowl half time snack. There are teeth marks on the cross and half a bead is missing, presumable working its way through his digestive tract. Buck is a beautiful 8 month old Australian shepherd who belongs to my son Matt and accompanied him to our super bowl party yesterday. Buck is my favorite dog in the whole world. I know he likes to chew things up. Which is why I shouldn’t have left my office door open when they came over to watch the game.
But there is no point crying over a mangled rosary. And people (and animals) are always more important to me than objects. So no hard feelings for Buck, who is still my favorite dog in the whole world. I scooped up all the beads and the teeth marked cross and put them in a quart sized freezer bag. Now what to do with them? I could throw the whole thing out since today is garbage day and the truck hasn’t come by yet. I could order another one online. It wouldn’t be the exact same one, but I could see how close I could get. I could try to restring them and sand off the teeth marks. Or I could keep them in the bag and pull out one bead at a time, and pray a student’s name like I used to do. The pink twine isn’t holding the beads together anymore. But I could remind myself that the Holy Spirit’s presence still unites my students, even though they are separate individuals with unique qualities walking divergent vocational paths.