The Beginning

There are 108 beads on one string, a handmade mala that I use for prayer and meditation. It is not made in the traditional way with the big bead and tassel to mark the beginning and end; it is just a string of jasper beads. The only way I can tell if I am at the beginning or end is to feel the rough spot where the string is tied together. No matter how I try to cut and tie the ends together there is always a little rough spot.

When I start to chant, I start at the rough spot and when I get around to it again I know it’s time to stop. In between I can explore the mantra, get to know it, get lost in it or find myself at a new understanding of some aspect of my life.

Today I was aware of the rough spot and realized that very often when I am at a rough spot in my life I am either beginning or ending something. Somehow, just knowing that makes it seem less dramatic.

When I begin my meditation I know I am beginning and I know how difficult it can be to make myself sit still; the rough spot on the mala helps me shake off distractions and focus. The next time I feel the familiar roughness it is a welcomed event; it means I am finished for now and I can assimilate what has just transpired.

I wonder if I can look at the flow of living in the same way. I wonder if when I experience hardship I can ask myself what is it that is beginning or what has come to an end.

When I pick up my mala I feel a reverence for the meditation that follows and when I put it down I know that I will eventually come back to it, again and again and that every time I pray and meditate I am changed in subtle but significant ways.

I want to try to remember this while I am living day to day so that when I get to the rough spots I can stop and honor what is just beginning and what has come full cycle. Maybe then I can be more appreciative of all that comes between the beginning and end; I can grasp that the part of me that is aware of the changes is also the part of me that is beyond beginnings and impervious to the end of a cycle, the part of me that simply knows that I am curiously alive and ready to grow. Maybe then I can be the instrument that sings I AM whether I am in the flow or at a rough spot, that I am more that the cyclical rhythm of change. I am the one who holds the beads.

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