Praying for Grace
I never liked when Madonna wore rosaries as jewelry, and I don’t like when people wear malas, the Hindu or Buddhist prayer beads, as necklaces or bracelets. It just seems disrespectful to their use as a prayer tool. It’s only my opinion, but it’s why, when I took my mala on my trip with me this week, that it was in the pocket of my purse, not hanging around my neck.
I had a 9 a.m. flight out of Santa Barbara. I noticed on the drive in to the airport that it was a little foggy. Ok, it was really foggy. I couldn’t see the road very well for a bit, and as I got to the airport, it didn’t clear up.
The flight that was supposed to leave an hour before mine was still on the ground when my flight was supposed to begin boarding. My flight was delayed a little and then a lot. I tried to maintain the illusion I would catch my 10:40 flight out of Los Angeles, but that hope receded as the fog did not.
I went to stand in line to try and rebook my flight. Aside: why does it take 15 minutes to rebook each person? It only takes five minutes to book the flight online initially. But whatever.
At this point, I need to mention that the floor at the Santa Barbara airport is polished concrete, very new and shiny and smooth. The reason for me telling you this will become clear in a moment.
Praying for patience as I stood in the long immoveable line, I slid my hand into the pocket of my purse and gripped my mala. I don’t know what happened then. The mala, which had seemed perfectly intact at the beginning of the day, now just…exploded. About 40 of the 108 little green stone prayer beads slid off the string and went bouncing and caroming off at every angle, making this surprisingly loud clattering sound in the relative quiet of the airport.
Everyone turned to look at me. Every single person. I stood there, stock still, holding the now-empty mala string in my hand, disbelieving what had just happened.
The myriad little beads had created a field of ball-bearing like dangerous obstacles to any hapless traveler who wanted to walk down that concourse. I might as well just have flung a box of banana peels onto the concrete.
I leaned over to try and pick up the mala beads, promptly causing more beads to jump from my open purse pocket.
Apologizing and explaining, I bent to pick up the beads, which were surrounding me for at least 15 feet in every direction. Just when I thought I had found them all, this man in line began pointing out the ones I had missed. He had a tone in his voice that suggested I might be part of a secret Al-Qaeda plot to bring down airport travelers with stone beads instead of other weapons.
Why does this stuff happen to me? Why can I not just pray like a normal person, with peaceful, calming thoughts and no spreading of danger to my fellow travelers?
So that was the beginning of my trip. At the other end was reaching my hand into my purse and pulling it out, all bloody-handprint style. Whaaaat?
Yes, as I had been walking around Indianapolis, apparently the cap to my red lipstick had come off. With every step, the thing was drawing greasy red marks on every item in my purse. When I grabbed my now be-reddened wallet, I got the full palm of colorful goo.
I rescued some items by wiping them down, but others were too far gone for me to salvage. Goodbye, rare red Tic Tacs box. Goodbye, granola bar. Goodbye, nail clippers. My thumbs won’t be the same without you.
So I don’t have a mala anymore, but if I did I tell you what I’d pray for. I’d pray for grace. I need it.