prayer beads for a new year
tucked under the covers with a thermometer poking out of your spout is no way to start the new year, let alone the new decade. but so it is. and so i type from horizontal perspective. and so this new chunk of time — the dawn of the decade now upon us — has only one direction to go from here: up.
as i lie and watch out the window, catching a flash of scarlet here, the squawk of blue jays there, i ponder one or two of those lists one we’re supposed to make this time of year. i can’t quite enumerate the things i hope and pray for. after all these years, i’ve boiled it all down to one more or less all-purpose petition: dear God, make me live and breathe your gentle radiant love. let me swallow the urge to be unkind. to rebuff the sharp elbow. to turn the other way when insult’s hurled my way. let me practice the zen of road kindness, refusing to blow the horn, to cut in front, not wait my turn. let me search for and offer the benefit of the doubt. let me try harder not to roll my eyes. (let us institute an apologia for hurling F bombs at the telly when idiots blather on, and on, and on….) let me stop the rumor here and now. not partake of gossip in any way, shape, or form (no matter how juicy).
these are the sins of the everyday. the little molehills that make for mountains, for a continent-wide topography of pain, of bitterness, the sharp and invisible line dividing “us” from “them,” that makes enemies of those whose stories we never stop to listen to.
let us traffic in tiny knots of kindness. exercise empathy. imagine how it feels to hurt so much, to be pushed aside, to be left alone on the side of the playground and never find a friend. imagine never letting go of that hurt.
imagine what would happen if one morning you woke up and found yourself inside a life where ego vanished. where someone noticed the glimmer in your eye had dimmed. imagine if someone quietly inquired: are you all right? did someone hurt you? imagine a world where we listened instead of trying to talk over each other. imagine if the ones who take up all the oxygen in the room realized there are others with thoughts to offer. imagine those rare few souls who live to scatter sunshine, who make us laugh till our bellies ache. imagine the miracle of the ones who always think two steps ahead, anticipate our hurt, offer tender loving comfort without folderol or trumpet.
imagine the quietude of saints who walk among us.
practice, practice, practice.
forgive yourself on the days when your brokenness shows. forgive your stumbles. say “i’m sorry.” say it to yourself.
and just as emphatically, consider a litany of be’s: be curious. be imaginative. be not afraid to dabble in whimsy. be willing to put yourself out there. be humble, so humble. carve out time each and every day to plug into the immense wonder of the heavens and the earth. traipse a meadow, a prairie, sandy dunes. follow a trail into the woods. count the stars. realize how small you are against the infinite canvas of the sky. seek wisdom not from picture shows or airwaves, but in the pages of texts — ancient and otherwise — pulled from bookshelves. deep-dive inside a poem. make a friend in an unlikely place. reach beyond your borders.
these are the prayer beads i carry into this new year; these are the petitions i press against my heart.
this is how i walk into this new year. once i get up and out from under the blankets and the nyquil.
what petitions might you bring to this new year?
i am praying extra extra hard for the world this morning. i fell asleep to news alerts, and wake up trembling at the shaky state of global affairs. when we pray for peace, we mean it with every cell of our being. oh, dear God, where is the peace we are meant to bring to this world? let it permeate from each of us. let us double-down our promise to live and breathe it….
Oh, Sweetie… I’m so sad you’ re so very 🤧 on your birthday. 😢 And that the daily news is terrifying. But we’ve got you… all of us here at the table hold you close. My heart says yes yes yes to all your words. Forgiving myself is the hardest. (The air in the home office yesterday was linguistically toxic.) The little kindnesses… they make such a difference. For the giver as well as the receiver. You teach us and remind us always what truly matters. 😘❌⭕️ Hope you feel better soon.
i feel you shuddering right beside me as we take in the terrible terrifying world news. and as we put heart and soul into those little kindnesses that make all the difference. sending love. this day and always. xoxox
I’m so sorry you are sick on your birthday!! Feel better!! So the first picture reminds me so much of your little girl bedroom! It was such a sweet girl’s room and the light was always so perfect!! Goodness your words spoke so true today! Just having been in a situation and my feathers so ruffled and maybe by someone that once ruffled your feathers! But your words comforting and reset my heart to move forward lovingly and pull in that elbow!! Lol!! Such a gift you are!! The difference and impact you are giving the world puts the oxygen back in the room and makes everything all right again!! Feel better!! Sending so much love! And wishing you the happiest Birthday, and year ahead!! Mary xoxo
Sent from my iPhone
oh, sweetie, breaks my heart to know you — queen of all that is radiant — are wearing ruffled feathers today. my irish is up just for you! love you. always, and ever. and sooooooo sweet that you remember the light in my room…….i remember it too…..and those swiss lace curtains at the windows…..they enchanted me from the start. there was nothing in the world like having you tuck me in bed. how blessed i was and am…..xoxoxo
“Lord, hear our prayer!” ~in response to all your petitions above.
And happy birthday to you! Hoping you are fully recovered from what ails you soon and that 2020 is a blessedly lovely year for blessedly lovely you! xoxoxo
thank you, beautiful heather! love the resounding amen. xoxox
This is beautifully written, touching and so true.
Feel better very soon. And after reading the posts above, I’m also going to wish you a happy birthday. My petition for the new year, other than all that you so thoroughly mentioned, is for continued good health for all that I know, including you! And I also should add that I’m constantly praying for the safety of my children and precious grandchildren, too. What an uplifting blog today! Yes, we all need to see the goodness in this dark and scary world of ours.
amen to the prayers you add. and a happy blessed new year. xoxox
It’s good that you used the caps key for God.
i always do. i always mean to, anyway. i’m so used to lower case, i sometimes think my shift key gets arthritic!
It’s always good to be on His good side.
good morning, beautiful!
this is from beautiful lamcal, who could not get it to post, and for which i am so sorry. her words are always so profound, and without even reading first, i am bringing these to the table, for i know they’re blessed…
from beloved lamcal:
Ah…and the Word became a prayer. I hope your Birthday is the first day of some real healing for you. Thank you for your “horizontal” efforts! They are much needed as we face forward into 2020.
Right before Christmas, I took some reflective time to work with a practice with the Abbey Of The Arts [ https://abbeyofthearts.com ] and the Dancing Monks. It is a lovey site dedicated to spirituality and the arts. Join up! There was an online 12 day retreat of sorts to help discern a word for 2020. It was helpful in wrapping up a tough year. I did find my “word”. We were asked, if we felt comfortable, to share the Word and bit about it. So this is what I shared with that little retreat community:
“The word Shepherd has found me. It came Christmas Eve at mass. The priest focused his homily on Luke’s shepherds who were called by angels to visit the newborn Jesus. They were not important or mighty, but lived simply and tended animals that were a vital resources of the village. Despite their fear, their faith let them be open to the call of God to walk into a Mystery that would change them and the world. The presider asked us to reflect on what it means today to be shepherds, to tend to others, to put away fear and show up as witness. What might it mean to be open to the call from God, to take risks and be open to mystery and hope. I thought maybe Shepherd and then, two days later I picked up book of Advent readings and opened it to an essay by Dorothee Sorelle, a German theologian and mystic who wrote of a radical God. She was completely unknown to me. Her essay, The Christmas Gospel focused on the political and social marginalization of the period when Jesus was born and the parallels to our modern world. She wrote this in 1993. If she could only see what is happening today! Serendip! She wrote of the shepherds and their response to the Star and the call of angels by leaving behind their work and visiting the Child, and then carrying on as witnesses… “Because the angels sing, the shepherds rise, leave their fears behind, and set out for Bethlehem, wherever it is situated these days.” It hit home. I think I will be reading more of her work and learning to be shepherd in todays complicated world. And then there is that whole maiden name I have of Lamb! Happy New Year.”
And so Barb, your Table musings resonate perfectly. And you already are a Sheperdess of sorts for us. I do believe the shepherds had some gals too as it was often a job for women [https://womenfromthebook.com/category/occupations-of-bible-women/]
but since it was Luke who wrote the story, well…probably got overlooked . 😉 Dorothee Sorelle was German spitfire radical theologian and would be right out there today challenging all us. I am going to follow her star a bit this year and see where it brings me. Rest and be well Barb, we have a BIG job this year of tending the world. xxoo
Ahhh…thank you dear birthday girl, and from your sick bed too! Seeing if I can commment on your post now.
yea! YOU DID IT! xoxoxox we’re back in action. i have no idea why gremlins hide in the comment factory!
Love lamcal’s WORD and as I told her earlier, my word is REIMAGINE which is what you were doing with your new prayer beads, bam. And I’m going to be following Dorothee Sorrelle’s star too. Thanks for all the wisdom that unfolds here. xoxoxo
that lamcal is always pointing us in new and rich directions! thank YOU for bringing all your wisdom! and happy blessed new year!
She is an inspiration. Turns out my library doesn’t have anything by Dorothee Soelle. I’m going to have search further afield. I’m also going to be bold and share my WORD post that I think you missed because you were under the weather.
love that you shared it because i HAD missed it. and here’s the comment i’ve been trying to leave on YOUR heartbreathings…..
oh, oh, oh!!! i am sooooo happy you reposted this because i DID miss it first time around, and i love it. the kicker at the end…..oh, dear gracious: just say the word, and you shall be healed……you could write a whole book on that exchange right there. it’s beyond breathtaking……..what’s the word??? oh, sarah…….
i love how you’ve entered into christine’s holiness, you and lamcal. love how your word surfaced and then kept resurfacing, as if bobbing on the seas, determined to be caught in your imaginative net. i love your use of it, and the use of each someone who used it. it’s such an open word, a word begging possibility, rather than insisting anything, or condemning. pure openness.
and now that you two have picked words for the year, i shall commence. always a bit late to so much….
this arrived in the morning’s mail, from brilliant blessed artist and spiritualist, Jan Richardson. she loves epiphany, the feast of brilliant starry light, as much as i do, as so many do. and here is her poem, from her brilliant Circle of Grace…..
For Those Who Have Far to Travel
A Blessing for Epiphany
If you could see
the journey whole,
you might never
might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from the place
you have known
toward the place
you know not.
one of the mercies
of the road:
that we see it
only by stages
as it opens
as it comes into
There is nothing
but to go,
and by our going
take the vows
the pilgrim takes:
to be faithful to
the next step;
to rely on more
than the map;
to heed the signposts
of intuition and dream;
to follow the star
that only you
to keep an open eye
for the wonders that
attend the path;
to press on
beyond what would
from the way.
There are vows
that only you
the secret promises
for your particular path
and the new ones
you will need to make
when the road
you could not
Keep them, break them,
make them again;
each promise becomes
part of the path,
each choice creates
that will take you
to the place
where at last
you will kneel
to offer the gift
the gift that only you
before turning to go
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons
Were you able to retrieve my missive lost in cyberspace, bam? In any case,
I just hinted that you should sip of the Nyquil more often if it will produce the
likes and wonder of Prayer Beads for the New Year. Just cracking the book
Engaging Benedict by Laura Swan and now being tempted by Dorothee Soelle’s injunction….where to find the time and space…good thing He has
promised us an eternity… A very blessed New Year to you and soulmates
commited to the sanctity of this table.
alas, it was nowhere to be found, dear mary. i just had a similar tangle trying to comment on a friend’s wordpress blog. i’ve sent an inquiry to their support team, asking if we can iron out the wrinkle. i am soooooo sorry that your missive never surfaced. where oh where did it go?????
it’s epiphany tomorrow, celebrated in churches today. the feast of the wise folk following the night star, making the uncharted journey to bow at the foot of the newborn most blessed babe. i’ve always loved the quiet, the shatter-the-night-ness of this feast day.
i just found this beautiful meditation on epiphany from Christine Valters Paintner, the heavenly thinker, poet, Celtic spiritualist mentioned in a couple places above. offering this for anyone who wants to travel deeper into the mystery and wonder of epiphany: