(“Meditative Rose” drawing by Salvador Dali)


I find myself oddly sensitive to people and situations they’re in (or not in) at this time of year. Why I possess this heightened holiday awareness is anybody’s guess.

Maybe other folks feel the same way. I don’t know.

The other day as I was waiting to get off the train I spied an older woman with her head down.
In her shaky hands, I saw she held a threadbare set of rosary beads.
The rosary struck me as unusual for someone riding the commuter rail but then I noticed she was softly crying as well.
My heart went out to this strange woman obviously going through some sort of
life-altering ordeal.
Maybe she was praying for a sick grandchild, maybe a spouse, maybe this screwed up world we all live in.

I wanted to ask if she was alright but I stopped, my internal voice speaking out loud and clear: Michael, she’s crying and saying the rosary and you’re acting like she just hit the lottery. Wake up!

{Insert literary dope slap here}

I felt somewhat stranded and inept because there was little I felt I could realistically do.
On my key ring, I have a ‘guardian angel’ penny that I carry with me everywhere I go. Most days I hardly think about it—I know it’s there and that’s enough.
As I looked at this woman, my fingers involuntarily found the coin on the key ring in my coat pocket; my thinking being the outside chance of just holding the coin would magically transfer some benevolence and blessing her way.

I hate feeling helpless when I come upon a shattered soul.
This poor woman was all alone and in a way, she was stranded like me.

I ultimately decided it was none of my business and I walked past her and out of the train.

The scenario I encountered was not much different than what I encountered with one of my latest posts.
I thought “Nebula” would elicit more comments than it did.
This isn’t a post about getting you to read it, it’s about the fact that I put 2 and 2 together and came up with 4, something more elusive than it seems.
Nebula” was a painful post to read and many chose to walk away, silent.
Just like I did the other day…

I dedicate this post to the woman on train in the hopes that she found a few of her prayers answered. Sometimes, prayer is all we can honestly offer another human being.
But maybe, in the end, that’s not so bad after all.



11 thoughts on “Rosary

  1. I think sometimes people don’t KNOW what to do, or say in situations like that, so they choose the easy way out. Nebula was obviously very personal for you and perhaps people didn’t want to say something that would upset you? For myself, I realise your ok with the idea of any response seeing as how you put it on this blog, but that didn’t make it any easier to find the right words to reply…..I don’t like seeing friends in pain and by responding, you automatically think of the pain again when considering your reply…
    Take care, Kelly

    I can agree, Kell. Some folks thinking a comment would make matters worse.
    The odd thing is the post is about the past. Neither here nor there but I just found it curious.
    I try to be as open as possible to people that comment.
    Remember the “Crap” fiasco a few months back? Yoiks!


  2. i second what kel said….i used to find it exceptionally hard to comment on something that was obviously personal and ran deep until i realised that one thing…it was on the blog…comments weren’t closed, so it was ok to do it…but it took me a while….awesome post by the way….goosebumps….again 🙂

    I’ve heard the term ‘goosebumps’ from a few folks.
    I think, “who are they talking about? Me?”
    It will continue to floor me.
    Thanks, Mum.


  3. Seeing someone in pain, but feeling completely helpless to take it away, or even ease it, is such a horrible feeling. It makes me wish, like a magician, I could just say the magic words and make it disappear.

    I think sometimes it can be harder to see someone else in pain than it is to be the one dealing with it, because you can feel so helpless not knowing what to do, or what to say, and fearing if you do the wrong thing you’ll only be adding insult to injury. Loss, grief and pain seem to be hard and confusing for everyone even remotely affected by it.


    It is true that when the pain is yours, things are very different.
    I think that’s our physiology.
    And having the ability of a magician? If I had a dime for everytime I thought that, I’d have my own TV show by now. 😉
    ~ Dr. m


  4. Michael,
    I don’t know if I can speak to this or not – I think there are many reasons people don’t comment, I may be right or wrong so I won’t conjecture here. But I will say for myself – I may not comment (the obvious reason) because the post doesn’t speak to me; or because I would be concerned that I might assume to much about what the post meant; or because (and this happens sometimes) because adding to it, even in terms of a compliment might spoil the perfection of the statement. Those are my three reasons. You may be right about your theory but it’s not a reaction I would have.

    Frankly though, I am always baffled by comments, things I don’t expect to illicit much of a response does and things I think will, don’t. I’m a totally clueless blogger basically.

    That being said, your post was beautitful.

    You’re far from clueless.
    Interesting the spin people have put on this.
    It’s given me much food for thought.
    Thanks, Annie.


  5. I will tend to not comment when I’m not sure what to say. “Nebula” caused me to have lots of questions. Like you said above, I just walked away. I guess I could have said, “I don’t know what to say.”

    I, too, have been in that very situation.
    Usually, I try and figure out something positive to leave the writer/blogger especially if the post has had a dramatic effect on my psyche.
    Thanks for your honesty, Lolly.
    I understand.


  6. It’s my first time on your blog and I absolutley relate to seeing the woman with the rosary. Lately my eyes are wide open, takin in all the hurt and pain and suffering and ugly with which we are surrounded. Sometimes my heart breaks many times in a single walk to the subway. It’s painful. Thank you for letting me know that another person SEES what I see.

    Oh, and now I have to check out this “Nebula” post.

    If a first time visitor can ‘relate’ to something I’ve written, I’m doing my job.
    I try hard to keep my eyes ‘open’ on a daily basis but it’s hard (and sometimes painful)
    I appreciate this comment, FP.
    I promise to stop by your blog the next chance I get.


  7. PS–As far as posting about your deepest self, that’s what I do on my blog. You are more than welcome to visit, and comment!

    I will be by. Promise.


  8. More often than not, people are just at a loss for words. Most can not imagine surviving the situation they see you in, so it is so much easier to pretend that a fumbling word or two from a stanger would just make that person feel worse. I always respond best to.. “I’m here if you need me” & “you are in my prayers” … its hard to go wrong with those…

    Combining your comments = need prayers.
    We all need prayers.
    Nice comment.


  9. The world is full of broken souls. Some of them we can reach, many we can’t. But if you can touch the life of one who suffers, and, by doing so, alleviate their suffering at least to some degree, that act alone justifies your existence on this planet.


    I agree.
    “Broken Souls” would have been a great name for the post.
    Thanks, Smith


  10. I am overwhelmed by all the comments you have received. It makes me wonder at the little I know of the feelings of others. And of course in this particular case, you are the reason for the comments. Imagine if everyone in the world felt the compassion you have generated by your “story.” We wouldn’t be having wars, hatred, envy, jealousy and on and on… There wouldn’t be loneliness, sadness, unhappiness, because we would sense security from one another. At least that’s a good thought.

    It is a good thought, albeit a utopian one at that.
    As I always say, in a perfect world . . .
    Your comment was a pleasant surprise.
    Thanks, Peggy.


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