This is my prayer rope or chotki. I bought this about 5 years ago and wore it a bit off and on. I bought it because I needed a reminder, I thought, about prayer and because I’ve had this tiny crush on orthdoxy.
I had historically approached prayer in a casual way, a “hey, God…how’s it goin?” kind of way. This was really effective for a long time, actually. I like to think it was effective because I still lived at home metaphorically speaking. I lived in the faith that my parents built for me. I was born into a narrative, the Catholic narrative, and it fit me. It was safe for me. It was familiar.
I moved out of that house though. It no longer contained me, my old room offered me old comfort but no new challenge, no expression of who I was becoming as a grown up, so I moved out. It was not a rebellious action, it was a natural one. An action that perhaps we all experience whether we’re aware of it or not.
I’ve been mindful to keep my faith in the One who made me, the Son made flesh, the Spirit as counselor. That part of my faith never wavered. As much as I’ve loved the people, the place and the practice of each home I’ve visited since I left my parent’s house there’s always been something wanting in me. Maybe it’s the maturing process. I hope so.
This brings me back to my prayer rope. When I ordered it I had been given the advice that I ought to have proper instruction on how to use it. I didn’t seek out that instruction at the time, wearing only as a reminder of what I OUGHT to be doing. It was scratchy though, not at all comfortable. The knots were hard to hold, it was difficult for me to focus. I had to keep shifting it throughout the day, taking it off to wash my hands, wash the dishes, change a diaper. It got in the way. And so, I took it off and left it in a drawer somewhere.
Now, years later as I revisit my crush on orthodoxy, I realize now the significance of those feelings. Prayer is hard, it is difficult to focus, the reminder to pray maybe SHOULD be scratchy. There is still very much a place for me to be casual with my prayer but it can no longer be the only communication I have. So I’ve begun to wear my chotki again…this time I have sought instruction and hope to be mature enough to follow through on that. Each time I take off or put on the prayer rope to wash my hands I am reminded of prayer, each time the wool scratches me I am reminded of prayer, each knot I hold in my fingers reminds me of prayer…my fingertips telling me in no uncertain terms, “here is where we are…body and spirit…be here now.”