A Swedish Rosary
Antonia Lynn writes about a Lutheran Rosary she was given when she was in Sweden, and suggests some thoughts for meditation on each of the beads.
This meditation was first published in the Autumn 2005 issue of Chrism. The author's profile below is from the same date
Antonia Lynn was for many years General Secretary of the Guild of Health and wrote regularly on topics relating to prayer and healing. Since the year 2000 she has composed the Meditations on the back page of Chrism.
© Guild of St Raphael
THE WREATH OF THE SAVIOUR – A GIFT FROM THE SWEDISH CHURCH
One of my most treasured possessions is a Lutheran rosary (yes, there is such a thing!) given to me earlier this year by a retreatant in Sweden. Its name in Swedish is Frälsarkransen – the Wreath of the Saviour, and was devised by Lutheran bishop Martin Lönnebo as a tactile, versatile help for silent prayer. The whole dynamic of the gospel is symbolised in this simple circle of coloured beads – you can pray the whole cycle or simply choose a bead to help you stay in silence with whatever you want to weave into your prayer. As we are celebrating the riches of other traditions in this issue, I wanted to share the rosary with you. Beads seem to be 'in' at the moment, and there are some beautiful ones available in craft shops, so why not make your own?
Note: For those who wish to purchase a ready made rosary, these can be obtained from the Revd Brian Druce, Park Cottage, Elmley Castle, Pershore WR10 3HU; Tel: 01386 710577; E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Price (including p & p) £4 (cheques should be made out to him).
THE GOD BEAD
The largest bead is golden: on my rosary it’s also the heaviest and seems to draw itself into my hands. You can begin and end your prayer time here, holding the bead and recalling God’s presence; remembering that he is there waiting for you, gazing on you with love, and will be with you when this time is over and your mind is busy with other things. God is alpha and omega; where everything begins and ends. ‘From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.’
THE BEADS OF SILENCE
Interspersed among the beads are some which are oval in shape and colourless, or made of unpainted wood. The beads of silence: gently pulling you back, again and again, to the knowledge that you need not do anything in prayer, or even ask anything, simply to be – and let God be God for you, and love you. The bead is long rather than round because it can take time to settle into silence, and it is left unpolished because nothing is needed in the silence: be there as you are. ‘I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother… O Israel, hope in the Lord. . .’
THE ‘ME’ BEAD
A smaller bead, like a pearl. This is myself, as God sees me: tiny, fragile, beautiful, beyond price. In my deepest self is God’s own image. The kenosis of the Incarnation, God’s emptying, was for the sake of reaching me with love. ‘On finding one of great value he went and sold all that he had and bought it.’
THE BAPTISM BEAD
As the year turns we recall Christ’s baptism. As you hold this white bead, give thanks too for your own. ‘You were washed, you were sanctified…’(1 Corinthians 6:11). You may leave all your bitter memories and trustfully enter a new life. God knows you and carries you tenderly in his arms. ‘This is my son (my daughter), the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’
Then a bead of silence. . .
THE DESERT BEAD
The colour of sand, maybe even with a rough texture, this bead leads you to follow Jesus into the desert. You will have your own desert times, too, when you face trials and testing: times of painful growth, tiredness, sadness, temptations… The incarnate God, Jesus the exile and refugee, is there with you. Reflect on this with the next bead of silence. . .
THE ‘CAREFREE’ BEAD
Another translation of the name of this bright blue bead is the ‘pearl of holy light-heartedness’. What a delightful way to understand the virtue of apatheia or indeed the ‘indifference’ of my own Ignatian tradition! The person who gave me this phrase went on to explain ‘here I practise being untroubled in this very moment. I let go of tomorrow and yesterday. The here-and-now is an incarnation of eternity.’
Another bead of silence. . .
THE BEADS OF LOVE.
Two red beads follow:
This is the love of God given to you: the love of Incarnation and Eucharist. It is unearned, unconditional, immeasurable, stronger than death. Rest in that love: ‘for God so loved the world…’
1 John 4:19.
The second red bead is a symbol of God’s love given through you. Like a stone warmed by the sun, or the moon reflecting the sun’s light we can give back God’s love by serving or praying for others. ‘We love because he first loved us.’
THE THREE SECRET BEADS
Three small, pearly beads of what we might call ‘colloquial prayer’. Simply speak to God as one friend to another, with or without words, of whatever is on your heart. These may be things you cannot yet tell anyone else. ‘I ask for/intercede for/give thanks for… I am happy for/sorry for… I think/I feel…’ God knows, God understands. The touch of the bead is prayer enough.
THE BEAD OF NIGHT AND DEATH
Hold this black bead in the times of darkness, for yourself or someone else; times when God seems silent or absent. Remember Jesus, born in the night and dying on the cross. ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ God did not abandon Jesus, and will not abandon you.
Another bead of silence. . .
THE RESURRECTION BEAD
This white bead symbolises new life, new beginnings. Rejoice in, or ask for the grace to see, signs of this new life in your own. You are in the presence of the risen Christ. Let him console you, and hear his promise: ‘I am with you always.’
The final bead of silence, and return to the God bead: God, in whom everything begins and ends.
© Guild of St Raphael