By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published February 19, 2016
My husband was truly a Renaissance man, someone who could write, draw, build furniture, make fig and muscadine wine—and even keep bees.
Still, no man is an island, and that was true for him—which is why he sometimes came to me with a shirt that was missing a button, or his fuzzy head of hair in desperate need of cutting.
And although I am neither seamstress nor barber, I was delighted to help out, since these were ways to demonstrate my love. I’ll admit that I sometimes fretted while cutting his hair—“What if I do it wrong?”—but he always assured me, “It’ll grow back.”
One day I recalled how faithful he was to praying the rosary, and how he always carried a pair of cerulean-blue beads in a leather case in his pocket.
I promised him right then that saying the rosary would be my love letter to him. And since then, as I pray, I reflect on how the mysteries resonate with my everyday life.
The first joyful mystery, the Annunciation, brings to mind how easily the words “Be it done to me according to thy word” slid off my lips when life was good.
What I really meant, you see, was “God, I have all these dreams—and I’d like them to come true.” But when my husband died, so did many dreams—and only then did I realize that Mary’s words of surrender, incredibly difficult to say, are the very linchpin of faith.
As my fingers move along the beads toward the Visitation, I marvel at the charitable heart of the teenage Mary—newly pregnant—who journeyed far to visit Elizabeth and stayed long enough for John’s birth.
I cherish the memory of the stunning kindness poured out by friends and family who stayed with me after my sweetheart’s death.
At the same time, I know that in my new solitary life, I must brace myself against dark fears that sometimes visit me—and can only be vanquished through prayer.
For the Nativity, I pray that I will approach my faith with the trusting heart of a little child even on days when God seems far away.
The Presentation, underscoring Mary and Joseph’s obedience to the rules of their religion, evokes memories of Sunday Mass when my husband was alive.
What a joy it was to keep the Sabbath holy when he was praying beside me—and how painful it is now to go to church alone. Still, I’ve learned that obedience entails faithfulness to God even during times of sorrow.
For the final mystery, I envision Mary and Joseph panicking when they realized their son was missing—and perhaps picturing him wounded, ill or kidnapped.
No wonder Mary spoke sharply when they found him: “Son, why have you done this to us?”
And then came the mystifying answer, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
For me, that scene suggests that God’s plans can be inscrutable and perplexing—and “Why?” is a normal response to suffering.
As I put away the beads, I acknowledge that I am no longer seamstress and barber, nor the bearer of special cups of tea for my husband.
Still, I’m grateful there is something concrete I can do for him. After all, the rosary is an offering of undying love and a bond of faith that lasts forever.
Artwork (“The Visitation”) by Jef Murray. Lorraine’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.