October 31, 2014

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Co-worker’s gift was God’s answer to author’s prayer

Debra TomaselliI first met Dorothy when I started working at Insurance by Ken Brown on Arlington Street. Soon after I arrived, our office won a trip to Portugal and she got to go. Dorothy, a single mom with meager resources, was thrilled. She generously offered to buy souvenirs for everyone.

I didn’t want her spending money on me. I had everything I needed. Besides, I hardly knew Dorothy.

However, she insisted. “Want a T-shirt, a shot glass or a coffee mug? What would you like?”

I cringed. Not only did I not need anything, but I really didn’t want anything. Generally, tourist traps sell garbage.

So off she went on her trip.

At the time, I was struggling with how to spend my time. My dad had just been diagnosed with cancer, and since my husband’s income was adequate, I didn’t really need to work. I prayed constantly, asking God for direction.

One day in particular, I parked at the curb outside the office and paused. Was I really supposed to be in the insurance field? Should I quit, making more time available for my family? Did I need to volunteer more at the church?

“God,” I prayed. “What do you want me to do?”

That day, Dorothy, having returned from Portugal, met me in the office foyer.

We exchanged greetings, and then she said, “I want you to see what I got for you!”

I cringed, assuming she wasted money on some smutty souvenir I didn’t really want.

A small group of co-workers gathered.

“I want to see Debbie’s face when she opens it,” one of them muttered. My heart sank. Was it some off-color T-shirt?

Strutting, Dorothy led the way to her workstation.

“Here it is,” she announced.

I looked. No flamboyant T-shirt. No flapping foul. No camels carved in cork.

“Don’t you see it?”

I shook my head, still expecting a galloping elephant.


My gaze landed on a little, round, white case on the corner of my desk. It was so … pure. I immediately recognized the trademark image of Our Lady of Fatima.

Speechless, I picked it up and opened the case, which contained a rose-scented rosary. Gently, carefully, I lifted the sacred beads, realizing that Dorothy had no idea that I prayed the rosary daily.

I struggled to speak. “How did you know I would want this?”

She wiggled in delight.

“I don’t know,” she said. “It just screamed ‘Debbie’ at me when I saw it!”

Not only did I love the gift, I knew it was an answer to my curbside prayer. For whatever reason, God wanted me there.

I’m long gone from that job, but that rosary remains my constant companion. It accompanied me to visit Dad in his final hours. I offered many a heartfelt prayer with it. I’ve prayed for strength, courage, peace and wisdom with it and received those gifts every time.

I’ve told the story countless times of how I received the rosary, and it never ceases to amaze me.

(Debra Tomaselli writes from Altamonte Springs, Florida. She can be reached at dtomaselli@cfl.rr.com.)

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