Whoever hates his brother is in darkness; he walks in darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. —1 John 2:11
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the darkness? Turn on any news show and you’ll want to run to your nearest closet, lock yourself in, and declare the world a hopeless, evil place. But there is a key to unlock that closet, and it’s held by an unlikely girl, once a nobody, really. But then she was given a great task to become part of the salvation of all creation, and she said “yes.” She did not let darkness overcome her. She walked with it until it passed. And now she wants to lead you to The Way, to her Son. The steps on the path are the beads on her Rosary.
Pray one decade (1 Our Father + 10 Hail Marys + 1 Glory Be) on your couch with a cup of coffee. Pray all 5 decades x 20 mysteries on your knees in a monastery. Pray it on your fingers in the car. It doesn’t matter… as long as you pray it. Why? Because when you spend even a few moments of each day mindful of the feminine strength needed to bring God’s Grace to the world, you will begin to understand your part in overcoming darkness too.
When I was a child I was preoccupied with order and perfection. It’s safe to say I probably had a bit of undiagnosed OCD… and one thing I obsessed about was church rules. I would try to say the rosary before bed, but if I made one mistake, even in the last word of the last prayer, I’d start over. As you can imagine, I did some pretty heavy praying for a kid! My one reprieve was to recite it with my mother. Together, we could make all the mistakes we wanted and it was OK. Her inherent goodness was powerful enough to negate my imperfections. So I would trek down the hall to her room at 10 or 11pm, frustrated by my “prayer failures”, and wake her up from a deep sleep to say the rosary with me. And to her credit she did it. I’m sure her reaction was a mixture of happiness that I was so devout and complete annoyance that I was interrupting her much-needed sleep. Still, she was there for me. She didn’t leave me all alone in my darkness.
I continued to say parts of the rosary throughout my life, albeit less devoutly. Ten “Hail Marys” before bed, an “Our Father” on the way to a college test. No real devotion…more of a comforting insurance policy, really. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I really needed to turn to prayer for a difficult situation that comfort of the rosary became real to me. This time, it was my turn to accompany someone through darkness. In recitation of the simple prayers, holding each bead as I went along, I felt the Blessed Mother walking beside me. I was guided toward the help needed; I was given the strength to think clearly when things got scary. But most importantly, I was provided with an underlying sense of Peace. I was given the mantra “Let it Be”, which I understood to mean that in the end, all would be well. Just what a mother would say. And she was right.
“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:6-7
Recently, two of my paintings, “Hail Mary” and “The Canticle of Mary”, were included in an Illuminated book of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary by Catholic author Jerry Windley-Daoust. From an artist’s perspective, it’s definitely a boost to the ego to be included in a published collection of work with the likes of Fra Angelico, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli! On a deeper level, I believe this author found me because we both share a vision to provide a new, fresh perspective to timeless traditions of our faith. Artwork can offer a deeper understanding for both children and adults; a good companion to the beads. Jerry’s book offers an alternative way to experience the Catholic meditative devotional to Mary: through the eyes of artists who have spent their own prayerful time at the canvas.
I hope you will consider making the rosary part of your spiritual practice, if you don’t already. They’re simple prayers, to a simple girl. And, quite simply, they can drive out darkness. The devil hates that, you know.
A preview, and copies of the Illuminated Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary can be purchased at www.pbgrace.com/joyful-mysteries
The original paintings are part of the permanent collection at the Presentation Center in Los Gatos, CA.