pray without ceasing means wearing bracelets

by rebecca on November 18, 2010

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          Today my altared space is these prayer beads. I made them up because the prayers I was offered as a child broke. I was raised on prayer. I prayed to Jesus. I could recite common prayers from that blue book bound and waiting for monotone voices to come open it and recite its words aloud. Holy books filled my book shelves and I lived to use my highlighter.

          Then poof! My ability to pray went up in smoke. I got hurt in churches and temples, gardens and meeting places where I raised my voice in prayer and felt it squashed. But that’s not the story I’m telling here.

          I want to talk about how I learned to pray again because that feels like some sort of miraculous magic trick. It actually feels like Grace and Love which is how I know it’s really and truly prayer.

          Just about the time I was getting knocked around by all those churches and meeting places, getting slain in the spirit or learning to sit very still on an orange cushion I also was filling my arm with tons and tons of beads. I did that because I happen to be in love with color. It’s a true Love affair; the kind that can make a person like me weep with delight.

          I never thought anything about those beads. I just knew I loved them. I knew stringing them and sorting them and shaking them on my arm or drying them as I emerged from the shower brought me joy. So I kept collecting balls of joyful color and adding them in a circle to my wrist.

          Then, one day, while I was at the grocery store I heard myself say to one of the countless strangers who commented on my bracelets, “They’re my prayer beads.” Interesting. Because I didn’t know that. Then sometime later, at a party, with a drink in my hand, I found myself saying to someone else who was commenting on how my beads had recently changed, “These are my grown up beads. I’m trying to grow up and these beads are teaching me how.”

          These were the little nuggets that came pouring out of my mouth when I wasn’t in my way doing all that thinking and rather just living my life. That’s when I began to see my beads differently. I realized they were a hand holding mine, keeping me company and guiding me to express my gratitude for the bounty of beauty I found in the world each day.

          These beads were my first altared space. They helped me find what I lost when I got elbowed out of churches. I lost my voice to pray, but I found beads to teach me again. Anew.

          Because there’s always another way to let Love heal. Love might get locked out. But Love will always come again. Always. That’s how it is with Love. Love is just that tenacious. Great, isn’t it?

 

 

          Do you pray? What does prayer look like in your life? Have you ever lost something precious to you and you couldn’t quite say how it happened but then one day you found that thing again repackaged?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

SuziCate November 18, 2010 at 12:11 pm

I do pray…almost constantly it seems at times, thought I’d not consider me a religious person as far as institutionalized religion goes. I was burned through the years as well. I’ve often wandered about prayers beads (as I’ve only heard of rosary beads). I love beads, stones. That is another thing I found fascinating about your land is the abundance of beads. I make jewelry (for myself) sometimes, but not as often as I’d like because it makes my fingers swell. But I love the creativity of making them. I bought several strands of stones while I was out West. I’ve been reading some about healing stones and find the whole concept both comforting and interesting. I believe the healing power is possible, but mostly it is a mind matter for me….stones make me feel good. Thanks you for this post. I enjoy all of your writing, but this one in particular speaks to me.

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Kristen @ Motherese November 18, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I wonder if there might be some prayer beads in my future. I grew up praying every night and every Sunday, but I’ve lost that ritual and no longer pray in any sort of communal way. Still, at the very best and very worst moments, I do return to a version of prayer. It’s one thing I allow myself to do without fixed rules or expectations.

This was a lovely piece. Thank you for sharing it, Rebecca.

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rebecca November 18, 2010 at 4:36 pm

SuziCate,

Well, the Miracles just don’t stop in my life of late. When I began my blog, some time ago, this post was probably the reason. But it’s taken me this long to have the courage to write it. I’ve gotten elbowed out of so many faith institutions (or maybe I backed myself out…I’m rewondering about this story of late). Anyhow, I’ve lost many, many friends. I’ve known how deeply you feel about God, and I worried that you, too, would back away after reading this.

I think there are more people than I realize who have been hurt by religion while still longing for prayer and for God.

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rebecca November 18, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Kristen,

“I wonder if there might be some prayer beads in my future.” If I substituted the word “flag” for “beads” I think I could say I uttered a sentence like this just before someone came into my life giving me one in a way I could welcome.

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Corinne November 18, 2010 at 7:05 pm

All of those strands are absolutely gorgeous….
Prayer, to me, looks scattered and frantic and hopeful and quiet all at once…

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rebecca November 18, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Corinne,

I am fascinated by the honesty of this post and I’m longing to hear more… especially the scattered and the frantic. I think I know about those prayers…the kind I utter in hopes of settling myself down. I was just with a friend tonight who mentioned prayers during a moment of extreme duress. I’m wondering if this is what you were talking about.

It means a lot to me to have you here today. Thank you, Corinne.

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6512 and growing November 19, 2010 at 8:26 am

Repackaged? Hmmm. I am intrigued by your question and will have to sit with it.

I like that your beads have led you back to a place of inspiration; and I like that you allowed it.

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rebecca November 19, 2010 at 9:11 am

6512,

This comment makes me smile.

Is it because it is food to chew on and digest? Is it because it is slow and spacious? Is it because I feel even more ALLOWED? Not agreed with, not condemned, merely allowed to continue to find my path in life.

Thank you.

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Yvette Francino November 21, 2010 at 10:29 am

I believe prayer is a beautiful, personal conversation with God and how we have this conversation is as personal as the prayer itself. In my childhood, I recited the memorized prayers (very proud of how quickly I could whip through a rosary at warp speed! I think I would have won the title of “Fastest Rosary” if there were such an award.)

As I’ve grown, I’ve learned to take my time with my conversations with God and to make them more personal. I still love my special rosary – beads made from rose petals that still retain the scent. I love the traditions of faith, but only if they feed our souls and welcome our thoughts…

Our conversations with God should be completely honest, even if they are not what the religion we were raised with preaches. My belief is that God accepts everyone and welcomes and encourages non-traditionalist prayer. I’m sure he is loving the colorful beautiful prayer beads and how these beads bring you closer to Him.

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Amber November 22, 2010 at 12:51 am

These beads are a special and important reminder of things that keep us grounded.

To answer your questions–I do pray. Every day. I learned to as a child, re-learned as an adolescent, and am re-learning, again, as a mother. I didn’t stop praying in-between these stages, but I have grown so much more in my praying methods since then. I have a relationship with God in which I need prayer–need that direct connection to Heaven.

I don’t have beads, but I do have intangible reminders to pray. Like when my heart swells with intense gratitude for my children and my husband. Or when I am confused and need direction.

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rebecca November 23, 2010 at 7:01 am

Amber,

There are so often the times I need prayer the most: times of confusion or gratitude.

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rebecca November 23, 2010 at 7:04 am

Yvette,

I believe I’m learning to take my time and offer something that is truly authentic.

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Dawn November 27, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Woohoo! Boy, this is one of the most true a potent writings I have seen you do my friend. I love your prayer beads, your honesty, your laugh, your heart, and the fact that I too got kicked out of many of those holy places with you for seeing the world as “too big”.

The love inside me taught me to pray again. With singing, in pottery, in my walks through the woods. I think I lost trees as a child and got them back as a younger adult when I left the structure of holy places and went to nature to find my way again.

I spoke to my son Johann about prayer this week since he had a few questions about God from his boy scout creed. He said, “We don’t pray do we mom? ” and I replied, “Yes we do sweetie, every time we talk to the trees.” and he simply replied, “OH right! Of course!”

……I think it’s humans that need to make it more complicated than that! 🙂

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rebecca November 27, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Dawn,

You tell your boy to keep up his talkin’ and tree huggin’. The trees are listening and helping him breathe.

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Stacia November 30, 2010 at 11:29 am

I don’t pray. Or, rather, I don’t think Anyone hears when I do. Sometimes I still find myself needing the prayers I grew up with and I’ll say them aloud because the ritual and the familiarity are so very comforting. And sometimes I wonder if that counts or not.

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rebecca November 30, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Stacia,

This made me smile. Does it count? Like in hopscotch when the rock is teetering on the line…sort of in, sort of out. And the other kids say, “It still counts.” Well, I’m thinking your prayers of familiarity are “liners”. They count in the comforting department.

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