I love the smell of antique stores. The sweet musty scent of time and mystery.

Stepping inside the old, ramshackle house I instantly felt that tingle of anticipation. There was a treasure here waiting to find me.

Wandering through the crowded rooms of cedar and mahogany furniture, and tapestry covered divans, I ran my fingers gently over the blue flowers of a china pattern, and inhaled the words captured in the leather bindings of old books.

Histories and tall tales haunted each corner, but none lured me into their story. Pulled back to the front of the store, I stood in front of a long, low jewelry cabinent. The proprietress, a women of indistinguishable age, had brilliant emerald green eyes which held me in an almost hypnotic trance.

Crystal

Before I could speak, she had brought out a black velvet lined box which held two rosaries. One a magnificent strand of lead crystal stones, accented by a large sterling silver filigree crucifix. Coiled beside it, a humble string of well-worn, wooden ebony beads and crucifix.

With reverence and awe, I picked up the crystal rosary, thumbing each bead, counting through the decades. The facets of the stones felt cold and closed to me. A beautiful icon, a religious masterpiece, but it didn’t reach out to me. I returned it to its place in the box.

I stared at the other string for several minutes before finally holding it in my hands. Instantly I felt a warmth spread through my fingers and up my arms, engulfing my chest and seeping into my heart. I felt every prayer cradled inside the beads. Prayers for eager supplicants, for couples declaring their love before man and God, for newborns fresh to the world, for the souls of the sick and dying. Prayers of joyful thanksgiving and prayers begging for forgiveness. I knew this was why I came to this store.

Ebony

The emerald-eyed woman smiled knowingly at me. Wrapping my purchase in pale blue tissue paper, she handed the packet to me, holding onto my hands for a long moment. Finally nodding her agreement, she let go, waving as I left the store.

Sitting outside the store in my car, I carefully unwrapped my rosary. Sliding through my fingers, the beads felt familiar, as if they were crafted especially for me. A sense of well-being washed over me, and I relaxed for the first time in weeks. Maybe everything would be okay after all.

Dam burst

For Story Dam, an online writing community offering weekly and monthly writing prompts. This week’s theme is: Antique store find

I own several rosaries and crucifixes, with more than two dozen in my collection. I’ve written about them before, and how even though I am a non-catholic I see them as beautiful pieces of religious art. I’m also intrigued with the notion that they are filled with heart-felt prayers. Who couldn’t benefit from more prayers?