Victim beads part two – a month later.

I made a victim bracelet after I went to visit my spiritual director last month. She wanted me to focus on my pain and those people who have harmed me. I’m opposed to this. I want to rush right ahead to the “forgive and forget” part.

Mostly the forget part.

But, she hasn’t steered me wrong yet, so I’m giving it a try. She didn’t recommend making a bracelet to help me remember. That is just something I do. This way, all day long I have a reminder to think about this. Beads are good tools for me.

I made it, with a bead for each person who came to mind. This was a month ago, and I’m discovering that I can’t remember who each bead refers to. A girl I went to high school with. My aunt. The former branch manager of the library I work at. My mom. A lady in a social group I was in. My brother, of course. But I’m having a hard time remembering everybody else. It isn’t easy.

Perhaps Jesus is getting on there and healing the broken bits.

I don’t want to focus on my pain, but I know it is important. You can’t heal what you don’t know is broken. Emotional pain is harder to work on. You can see a cut on your arm. It is easy to spot. Just put a bit of Neosporin on it and a Band-Aid and you are good.

But emotional hurts are harder to spot. The longer they aren’t tended to, the deeper they go. The deeper they go, the harder they are to dig up and get out. They tend to erupt in ugly ways. They tend to come up like privet in your yard, unwanted, unsightly, and well entrenched.

I want to forgive them. They didn’t know better. They didn’t know they were hurting me. I didn’t tell them. They didn’t mean to be mean and thoughtless and cruel. I want to let them off the hook and be done with it. I don’t want to wear this bracelet because it seems like I’m advertising my pain.

But I’m not, not really. Nobody knows what this bracelet is about. It is private. It is just a bunch of beads. Nobody knows they have meaning.

And why would I care what others think? When was I taught shame for these feelings? How much of this is the old idea of keeping the family name, the family honor clean, unbesmirched? Stiff upper lip, and all that. Don’t air your dirty laundry.

I always feel a sense of betrayal when I talk about these things. Not that I was betrayed, but that I am betraying them. This is especially true when I mention my parents. Don’t speak ill of the dead, you know.

How bad is it when the victim is the one blaming the victim?

So I wear this bracelet sometimes to work on these feelings, and ask Jesus into them. This is still a foreign idea. I wasn’t raised with the idea of Jesus as being real, and present, and my best friend. Jesus was a guy back then and out there, not somebody right now and right here.

I’m catching glimpses of this Jesus, and I think I like him.
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Multi-faith prayer beads.

This is a new creation. These are prayer beads, in a whole new way.

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I took three different sets of prayer beads, broke them apart, and then put them back together again. There is no centerpiece, and there is no beginning or end. They are all connected, and they are all one. I have included a fourth faith tradition as well with the number of beads that I used.

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I have Hindu prayer beads, made with rudraksha seeds, said to be the face of Shiva. These are the knobbly brown beads.

I have Christian prayer beads, from a Catholic rosary. These are the ones that are made with iridescent faceted glass.

I have Buddhist prayer beads, made with bone that has been dyed with the OM symbol, to reference the mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum”

Then I have put them all together so that there are three sets of 11 beads, so there are 33. This references Islamic prayer beads, which sometimes have 33 beads, which are said three times to complete the 99 names of God.

Four faiths, in one chain, hand linked with copper wire, because it is a conductor of electricity and power.
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We are all one. We are all searching for connection with our Creator. We seek unity.
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Here, now, is a visual symbol of it.

Beads are prayers

The English word “bead” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “biddan” meaning “to pray.” A woman was said to be “doing her beads” when she was using her rosary. Beads and prayers are the same thing. Sometimes I like to express certain religious ideas in bead form. This was the original intent of this blog, but I couldn’t figure out how to add pictures. Thanks to help from a coworker and some dogged persistence on my part (and no thanks to two different WordPress books), I’ve figured out how to marry up words and pictures. Here are two examples of how I speak in bead, when it comes to religious topics.

This necklace is referencing two verses from the Gospels. The fish refer to when Jesus said to his new-found disciples “I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). The grape leaf and the purple bead together (a symbolic grape) refer to when He said “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) (translations from the New International Version)

I also like the medal. It is a Sacred Heart medal. Rather than being a crucifix that depicts Christ’s agony on the cross, the Sacred Heart shows us the depth of His love for us. It also reminds us that we are to create within our own hearts a sanctuary for Jesus.

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This bracelet depicts the world before and after Jesus. Start at the bottom at the 6 o’clock position and go counter-clockwise to follow the story. The small dark green bead represents the beginning of the Jewish people. The large green bead (both are antique watermelon beads) represents their many years waiting for a Messiah. Then the red bead is for the Holy Spirit, next to the blue bead for Mary. This combination symbolizes humanity saying Yes to God’s requests for us to bring forth His love into this world. The following bead has all three colors of green, red, and blue. It is the merging of history and destiny – Jesus as the culmination.

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I believe it is good to have prayers made visible.

The History of the Church, in beads.

I’m attempting to explain the history of the Church in bead form. I apologize for the dark pictures – this is a work in progress. (edit – I’ve added new pictures that are brighter. )

Here is a picture that gives an idea of what the whole thing looks like.

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And another –
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It all starts with the cross.

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Then the large fancy beads near it represent the Byzantine era. I chose blue, purple, and red because those were the colors God said to use for the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

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This section represents the Middle Ages. One church, so one unifying pattern. Lapis lazuli represents the material used by monks in their illuminated manuscripts. The red is antique “white hearts” from the African trade to remind us of history and time.

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Here is another picture of this section –
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This section has the three colors of the temple, but it is casual and a little jumbled. There is a pattern if you look hard. This is now, the age of strip-mall churches and Mega churches.

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And also here –
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Pure and unadorned, the color in this section has the best of blue and purple to it, and was started off with red, the color of the Holy Spirit. Blue is also the color of Mary – a human being who said Yes to God and allowed The Divine to work through her to bring forth healing and redemption to our world. This is the future. This is what we as the Church are being called to.

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Better lit –
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