What might it look like to pray with all our senses? This question gnawed at me as I was preparing for our annual Celtic Prayer Retreat and thinking about designing a new prayer trail. Our theme for the retreat was “Celebrating the Goodness of God with All the Saints”. We are indeed “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1). As I wrote in an earlier post, even creation surrounds us, giving testimony to the goodness of God. I wanted this prayer trail to open all our senses to the world around us, to help us to listen deeply, to hear with all our being the whispers of God.
If you are able you might want to read this while sitting in a park, walking a trail and stopping periodically along the way to pray, or while sitting in a garden. If it’s helpful, you can click on each picture to get the full view. While I haven’t tried this yet, it might be interesting to walk into your neighborhood or even downtown in your city and go through these prayers. If you do, please comment below and share you experience! Most importantly, don’t rush. Relax, breathe, and release your senses, and your imagination, to God. The Holy Spirit will take it from there. Enjoy!
Circle me, Lord. Keep hope within, and despair without.
Circle me, Lord. Keep peace within, and worry without.
Circle me, Lord. Keep love within, and hatred without.
Circle me, Lord. Keep courage within, and fear without.
Circle me, Lord. Keep light within, and darkness without.
As I walk this path, circle us all with your love, protection and grace.
- Feel its texture.
- Observe its color.
- How might this rock symbolize some area of your life?
- Give thanks.
- Can you sense its unevenness?
- Can you feel the force of your weight in your legs, your feet?
- Can you sense the earth supporting you?
- Reflect on the truth that out of earth you were formed.
- Give thanks.
- What do you see?
- What obscures your vision?
- What emotions are evoked as you stand under this canopy of God’s creation?
- Give thanks.
- Surrounded by creation, can you also sense being surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses”?
- This path is a circle around the center of our retreat. How are you part of the great cloud of witnesses with the people gathered here?
6. What is this rock you are carrying?
- Do you still have it?
- What things in your life are like this rock, you carry them around, perhaps even forget you’re carrying them, but they are always there?
- Slowly breathe in again. Can you taste and smell the creation around you?
- Slowly exhale, giving thanks to God for the gift of creation.
- Slowly breathe in again. As you breathe in, thank God for the gift of sustaining breath.
- As you slowly exhale, thank God for inviting you to participate in giving life to others.
- How many different sounds can you hear?
- How many can you identify?
- Give thanks for the voice of creation praising its maker.
- Does it feel hot? Cold? Warm?
- Can you feel a breeze?
- Close your eyes and remember. Does this temperature evoke any particular memories?
10. Circle Prayer:
Circle me, God, with the great cloud of witnesses. Keep hope within and despair without
Circle me, God, with deep, spiritual friendships. Keep love within and fear without.
Circle me, God, with the beauty of your creation. Keep stewardship within and exploitation without.
As I re-enter the gathered community, circle us, God, keep fellowship within and division without.
The invitation below was written as part of our sharing opportunities at the retreat.
* If it seems fitting, place your rock in a pile on the Alter. Together we create a stone pile of remembrance, an “Ebenezer” – “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12). Each stone represents something different, perhaps a joy, perhaps a brokenness. This pile together represents our gathered presence with our varied strengths, weaknesses, hopes and fears. We are the body of Christ, each one a part, together rejoicing with those who rejoice, weeping with those who weep, surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses carrying together, in Christ, the full array of life’s experiences.