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You have to lose a single bead before you can untangle the string


By Charlie Sacchetti

               If any of you think that God has no sense of humor, I invite you to talk to me. At least 60 years ago, probably around the time I made my Confirmation, I was given a set of basic black rosary beads. For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, I would simply describe rosary beads as a loop of interlocking beads which serve two purposes: They are used to represent the particular prayer you are saying, and they also allow you keep the count of the prayers. Each set has beads that represent the “Our Father,” the “Hail Mary,” and the “Glory Be” prayers, and the beads are attached to one another by small metal links. The “Hail Mary” beads are the most prevalent, numbering 50, composed of five strands of 10 beads each.

               Those old rosaries have been everywhere with me. I’ve taken them on vacations, business trips, Army bases, you name it. I am not a “white-knuckle” flyer, but I have always taken the prudent step to pray the rosary just prior to leaving the terminal and jumping on a jet. (Just in case.)

               The age of the beads presents some problems. The attached crucifix has broken in half, although the small figure of Jesus remains completely intact. But the major issue is that the links tend to weaken and open, causing the beads to get tangled. Not being blessed with a great deal of patience, having to untangle the rosary beads tends to drive me a little crazy. I have let the knot of beads sit on my desk for weeks at a time after trying to untangle them for 10 or 15 minutes. Once a sufficient length of time has gone by, I give it another try and have always been successful.   

               However, about a year ago, something happened that I can’t explain, and it had nothing to do with the normal tangling issue.

               While at chapel one Saturday morning, I reached into my pocket to take out the rosary for prayer. As I pulled the beads out, I noticed that one link had opened up, so the beads were just dangling in a straight line, not in their normal circular configuration. To make matters worse, one of the “Hail Mary” beads had fallen off, leaving four groups of 10 beads and one group of nine.  But the good news is that I recovered the detached bead, and the rest weren’t tangled up at all, so I could simply re-attach the wayward bead, which would make the set whole again. I placed the rosary and single bead in my pocket and went home. Upon my arrival, I reached into my pocket to retrieve the set but, to my dismay, the disconnected bead was nowhere to found. It wasn’t in my pocket, it wasn’t on the floor, and it wasn’t in my car. It was nowhere. I surmised that I must have dropped it in the chapel or it fell out of my pocket in the street. It sure wasn’t in my house. 

               Biting the bullet, I made the decision to reattach the links and live with the rosary as-is. This would mean that I would have only nine beads on one of the groups, so I’d just say an extra “Hail Mary” to make up for the missing bead. I made the repair later in the week and put the rosary on my bureau. I also asked my wife to be alert, in case I somehow dropped the missing bead in the house.

               Three days later, it was Saturday, and time for me to go to my usual hour of prayer at our chapel. I grabbed the beads, put them in my pocket, and off I went. As I sat in the chapel preparing to say the rosary, I reached into my pocket and removed them. Manipulating the beads to get a good grip, I couldn’t help but be shocked when I saw that each of the five sections now had 10 beads! When I arrived home, I asked my wife if she had found the bead and reattached it. With a quizzical look on her face, she answered, “No.” Then I told her what happened, and she was astounded. I, myself, have no answer. All that I know is that one bead was lost, and it was miraculously restored. Of that I am certain. 

               My only question is this: Did God laugh harder after He finished creating the camel or after He saw the look on my face when I discovered this little miracle?

Charlie Sacchetti is the author of two books, “It’s All Good: Times and Events I’d Never Want to Change,” and “Knowing He’s There: True Stories of God’s Subtle Yet Unmistakable Touch.” Contact him at worthwhilewords21@gmail.com

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