Maria Johnson’s been in these parts before, and having her here is a virtual version of how I envision heaven: filled with my great friends and comrades, drinking beverages and quipping and praying (not necessarily in that order). Be sure to visit Maria at her blog (Another Cup of Coffee) and on Twitter, where she’s sure to delight you with her humor, inspire you with her devotion, and challenge you with her wit.

I’d like to offer you a little story about friendship, devotion, and the holy rosary during this special month of the rosary.

I have a rosary that my bestest ever BFF, Linda, made for me many years ago. One evening we found ourselves sitting at my kitchen table drinking wine and making all-twine rosaries for Rosary Army. We were just learning how to make these rosaries, and to be honest, they were turning out … well … not very pretty. Linda has a wonderfully unique way of matching things and that evening’s product of mockery was a heinous black and neon orange rosary that I mocked incessantly. She was eventually vindicated at the parish picnic when a lovely woman fell in love with the colors and took it off our hands – proof that God has a plan for everything.

But I digress, this is a story about the beautiful rosary that Linda made that evening. We were trying out two-color approaches (thus the black and orange) and I gave up on the project, preferring to keep our glasses filled and the running commentary on her progress lively. Her last effort for the evening was a blue and purple rosary that turned out a little long and a little thick, but something about it spoke to me. The colors looked good together; the twine had a hefty feel that had substance.

Surprised at my admiration of her efforts after being silly the whole evening, Linda pulled out a beautiful crucifix that would have been too large for the standard rosaries we made, affixed it to the rosary,  and presented me with the lovely gift – not just of a sacramental, but of the embodiment of a friendship that gives freely with no strings attached. It is certainly modeled after a greater Love.

The mission of Rosary Army, to make, pray, and give away these twine rosaries, has sometimes been a challenge because my inclination to hold on to pretty things is a weakness. I admit that more than a few times I’ve found twine that I had trouble letting go of because of its uniqueness, or the particular crucifix or medal that it had was special to me. Those are precisely the rosaries that I had to give away, and I passed them along with a last kiss on the crucifix and a brief prayer that the recipient be as moved by the power of the prayer as I have been.

The thing is, I can’t bear to give away this rosary. It has too much of me in it – the oils and sweat from my hands as I’ve moved through the decades – sometimes distracted, sometimes fiercely focused. More than a fair share of tears of supplication and sorrow have dampened the twine, pulled tight with prayers of thanksgiving and consolation in finding the peace that comes from praying Thy will be done.

I hold onto that rosary for sentimental reasons, but realize that one day (hopefully later rather than sooner) I will be called to fulfill my mission and give it away, perhaps to someone who would gain comfort from it and its [unknown] history. After all, it’s only twine. It is the prayer that has transformed me.