During a recent visit to Mornese, the birthplace of St Maria Dominica Mazzarello, while I was relaxing in the Hazelnut Grove behind the house, my attention was drawn to the nuts scattered on the ground. As I picked one up an incident in the life of Maria Dominica came to mind. Perhaps it was in this very Grove that it happened. As she walked with one of her Sisters discussing the importance of reflection, Maria bent down and picked up and nut. She handed it to her companion and said, “Keep this hazelnut in your pocket. It will remind you of your resolution.” What a simple way to practice mindfulness and take responsibility for our own lives.
A few days later when visiting the house where she was born my attention was drawn to an item in one of the display cases that struck me before: a purse containing two small round pebbles. The accompanying card explained that these had been given by Maria Dominica to the young Sr. Giovanna Borgna, who was about to leave for the missions in Latin America. We are not told why she chose this gift but it would seem logical to think that the pebbles, like the Hazelnut, were intended to remind Giovanna of something she had committed herself to.
So in these two incidents we see Maria Dominica showing her young Sisters how to practice mindfulness and how to help themselves to take responsibility for their own lives.
Today, one can buy ‘worry stones’ on the Internet or in certain shops. They are intended to help people to overcome anxiety and to be more reflective. Maria Dominica was already using a similar technique many years before such worry stones came on the market. Her form is available free of charge for anyone who wishes to make use of it. Why not give it a try?