Frances C. Sky: The Bead Chain Reminder

An imaginative person is very like a pearl diver, constantly overboard in a sea of thought, bringing up ideas in shells which more often than not prove useless and not worth the lead in a pencil to set them down—but again parallel to the diver—there comes the odd compensating dive which gleans the great reward, a single pearl, softly aloof, glowing in the drab surroundings which nurtured it to its final perfection.
Creativeness is but the offspring of the imagination—and strives constantly to capture the elusive thought, clothe it and breathe into it the spark of life to make it real and pulsating. Countless such ideas to the creative one are forever being born, live but a fraction of a span of time and if not captured and held like the night stars in the firmament, dissolve into nothingness when the first rays of dawn meet their glow. So it came to pass that a pearl of thought was revealed and by a happy accident captured and held. A veritable straw, not the one that breaks the camel’s back, but the start to reinforce and strengthen it so as to carry the load that is put upon it.
For years, Marianne, when reaching maturity, had come upon the phrase “count your blessings.” She said this often to a tired, despondent mother on whom fell the worries of a large family. Marianne would, whenever she had the opportunity, say these three words to her. Somehow, she had the feeling that this was quite ineffectual and had the same effect as water on a duck’s back.
Now, in her own life, she had tried numberless times to apply the same three words. She found temporary solace but even that was quickly submerged in a whirlpool of events. With her mother long gone, it had come to Marianne how inane and of what little comfort those words had actually been, for they hadn’t helped her very much. She had tried inwardly to bring into focus all the reasons why she should feel one way rather than another. There was a momentary relief which was speedily engulfed by another overlapping wave of worry and fear.
Fleeing from an emotional eruption at home, Marianne sat down on the park bench in the tiny park across from her flat. Weariness had closed her eyes and she was trying desperately to channel her flagrant thoughts into more peaceable water, when a movement near her caused her to start quickly. To her surprise she saw the only occupant on a bench opposite her was a slight middle-aged woman whose fingers were busily moving beads on a chain and her lips were moving as though in prayer. The lined forehead had smoothed out as though an invisible hand had been drawn across it. Her eyes were lifted heaven-ward and she seemed entirely oblivious of her surroundings.
Marianne’s reaction to this was to think, “Oh, a Catholic, and a devout one.” To be of the faith and to find such peace in prayer was enviable, but in a world of myriad faiths, each had its own way of prayer. Still she liked the idea of something tangible like the prayer beads this person was handling so dexterously as though she had so numberless times. She sat transfixed in her watchfulness, feeling it almost a sacrilege to be doing so, but unable to tear her eyes away from that quiet, unearthly scene. She felt as though she were in church and could feel its serenity and peace lave soothingly her troubled soul.
The recollection came to her mind of what she had read recently in a book about the early Egyptians, that when they were in the throes of a transition from idols to a god they were told to believe in and couldn’t see but had to visualize in their mind’s eye, they begged for something they could take home to have before them, be it even so humble as a piece of string.
At this very moment an idea formed in Marianne’s mind. Already, the heavy clouds seemed to be breaking and the brightness from that break seemed to bathe all in its glow. It even outlined the little praying woman who just then, as though impelled by its glow, rose slowly and seemed to float away. It was as if she had been on a stage and with her part played was now free to take her silent exit.
Forgotten for the moment was the conflict and turmoil in Marianne’s mind. She experienced for the moment the rare urge to hurry back to her untidy, neglected flat and put all to rights. The hot scathing speeches that she had been rehearsing for so many tortuous hours were all forgotten. Only a feeling of concern for her husband remained. To let him go off to his job feeling low and depressed seemed at this moment a hurtful thing. The enormity of her wrongs towards an uncomplaining and faithful mate made her writhe mentally. This would have to be set aright even before she could hear his tired lagging steps leading to their flat.
First she would shop for their dinner. She knew well the likes and dislikes of her small family. Then to purchase a small gold chain. She would start immediately to make her own personal rosary. This rosary would differ in that the chain would represent an unbroken prayer. Its beads would all be different colors and shapes. Each would represent a blessing so easily forgotten in mere utterance.
There were so many things she had to be thankful for—first for the good luck in living in a peaceful land. From reading the daily papers she knew that all else would fall by the wayside without this first blessing. Then her family’s good health. There would have to be a bead of rosy pink to depict that, red for the plentiful food everywhere and in turn on her table served to a hungry family. A white bead for their close escape from a snowy avalanche on a train trip five years ago, a black one for that night of terror when Beth’s ear was inflamed and her piteous cries of pain brought such heartache to all. And for her recovery.
Oh, all the colors of the rainbow she would employ to bring her to her senses. At the first rush of irritation or impatience with anyone, whomever they may be, she would finger her own personal rosary as lovingly as the devout Catholic and breathe her thankfulness until all anger had left her heart.
Somehow she felt that she had found a solution to the tensions and stress of this day and age. Great concern was even now being expressed from the pulpit. Articles without end enlarged on the subject and regular visitations to a family psychiatrist were as common perhaps even more frequent than periodic check-ups with the doctor and dentist.
Marianne realized that there is always bound to be stress of one kind or another and that all the mental arguments which she could produce to try to alleviate them were as naught when faced with another trouble spot which keeps on popping up no matter how we try to guard against it. Especially when the tempo of our time has been accelerated to such a fast pace.
Atoms, hydrogen, and all that it implies are here and we must learn to live with it and to face it calmly—to accept what may develop with cool headedness—to do what we can without getting tense and fearful because then we not only forfeit our effectualness but become prey to ever-increasing ailments for which the medical profession is so sorely pressed to find cures. If tensions could be controlled at its source then it might never develop to the enormous catastrophic proportions that it does.
Marianne felt calmness which had become foreign in her past few years. A new strength coursed through her veins, a new spring attached to her steps. She felt a warming, healthy impatience to be about her duties, to begin a renewed life with her family, to see and feel the difference when they came home to a clean home, a meal lovingly prepared and to her happy and cheerful face. For her, at least, the dark dreary ghost was routed. Her personal rosary would serve to lift her quickly out of despondency and she hoped prayerfully that as a result her entire family and perhaps others would benefit from this changed outlook.