Spirituality & Religion

Rosary Beads Are Fashionable


A few years back I was trying to find some rosary beads for my mother in law who had lost her's and was upset about this.  I thought if I could buy some for her this might cheer her up.  I searched quite a bit and only ever found one place, a Christian shop in the city where you could buy them. 


Fast forward to January 2012 and I was sitting in a Japanese restaurant, by myself, listening in on conversations, as I tend to do.  One particular man's voice caught my attention, mainly because it was rather abrasive.  He had been making some derogatory comments about a person he knew.  I managed to discreetly turn towards him, just to check him out further.  We are so curious about each other, aren't we? What first struck me was that he was wearing some rosary beads, with the crucifix on it.  Okay, then I had to stop and think about this a little bit more.  I was certainly raised as a Catholic and the beads and crucifix were familiar items to me, but on this day I had to stop and think:  what does wearing this religious symbol mean to this person? 


So I pondered on this question a little bit further, but then to my great surprise, I started seeing rosary beads everywhere; on young people and old, in shops, even in a hairdresser – yes, a certain hairdresser which shall remain unnamed had hanging out the front of the shop along with the hairbrushes and clips, fluro-coloured rosary beads.  Shock, horror.  What is happening? Well the obvious answer is: rosary beads are currently what's fashionable. 


We could call this, rather cynically mind you, the marketing of spirituality.  I still wonder what meaning people have in their minds when they wear them now.  I am curious about this.  What does it mean to you to wear rosary beads?  My dear reader, please don't think that in any way I am negatively judging people who do wear them.  I have some lovely quartz crystal rosary beads myself.  Really, what I am asking is that we look into, reflect a bit more perhaps, on what the symbolism of the crucifix means to us now in 2012.


I would like to suggest an idea that Ian Gawler speaks of when considering the crucifix.  The sign of the cross, the horizontal and vertical lines, which meet together, can represent both the material and the spiritual realms. Ian says that the life of Jesus embodied the integration of these two directions.  The horizontal direction takes our attention out into the world, scanning the horizon.  It is the direction of the outer, or engaging with others and the environment.  It involves activity, decision making, goal setting, and busyness.  This is the direction of materialism, says Ian.  On the other hand, the vertical direction takes us into our inner world.  It gives us depth and subtlety to life.  When we become still, reflective and meditate the vertical direction reveals itself.  It is about an inner focus, of getting in touch with ourselves and deepening this relationship with who we are.  It connects us with this precious present moment.  It is the realm of the spiritual.  These two directions can complement each other. However, I would suggest that our current time and culture values the outer focus, especially notions of progress, movement, and action.  We do not, I believe, as yet equally value stillness, standing still, stopping, presence, not progressing or moving.  So many of us live in the horizontal direction, and do not prioritise the vertical – our inner world. 


When we integrate the two directions in our lives they become that potent symbol – the sign of the cross.  The vertical direction provides a deep source of nourishment which is not available from the horizontal direction.  Stuck on the horizontal, we run on adrenalin until we are "spiritually empty".  


So when we wear our crucifix around our neck in whatever form, remember what they mean to us.  Some say it reminds them of what Jesus sacrificed. So then how does that translate into a way of living for us no?.  For me, I find it helpful to remind myself that the cross symbolises the vertical and horizontal aspects to my life that BOTH need nourishment.  I try to catch myself up when I get caught up in the progress thoughts and stories that whirl in my mind.  Stopping and attending to our spirituality is just as important as eating the right food, or exercising, or growing our business, or in any other way we stop to nourish ourselves.


If you would like to learn more about how to cultivate your vertical direction in your self and your life, book a spiritual counselling session with me.  We can work out a map for spiritual practices (of a practical and simple nature), look at what spiritual qualities you would like to develop further, and generally enhance your spiritual health.  

Love and light to you all.