by Christine Sine
This week as I settle into Celtic Advent, I find myself settling too into the circling prayers I both use and create. I cannot describe the depth of comfort and sustenance that they bring me. The sense of God’s encircling presence and protection is profound. And I am not just talking about physical sustenance and protection here. I sense God encircling my mind and my heart embracing me with divine light and presence.
I hunted through my collection of circling prayers and prayer exercises, but in the end decided to write a new prayer for this week that both fitted the exercise I used over the weekend and the fact that Thursday is American Thanksgiving. I will use it each morning as I light my candles and pray:
Thank you God Almighty,
For your light that circles us,
When all seems dark and we are in despair.
Thank you God our Creator,
For your love that circles us,
When our world seems full of violence and hatred.
Thank you God our Comforter,
For your presence that circles us,
When we feel lost and alone.
Thank you God for you.
(c) Christine Sine 2023
I also came across the following exercise I created several years ago, that I found particularly nourishing over the weekend. I invite you to try it. It is an invitation to move our circles from the imaginary to the real and I think we all need the type of boundaries and strength that the Celtic circle and circling prayers it inspired, provide. You might also like to check out this circling prayer exercise based on a traditional Celtic CAIM or circling prayer.
I pulled out a piece of construction paper and some of my rock collection and made a circle. This time I also grabbed some of my heart rocks to incorporate in the circle, reminding myself that God’s love is the foundation of the circle of God’s presence that surrounds all of us.
I sat for several minutes contemplating my circle and reminding myself of all the attributes of God I wanted that circle to embrace. I wrote those around the inside, added the words circle us God, at the top and Circle us with your presence at the bottom. As I did so, I envisioned that enfolding cloak of God around me. Then, outside the circle, I wrote some of the characteristics that seem so much a part of our broken world, that I think are excluded from God’s enfolding cloak. It was very comforting and strengthening.I sat for a few more minutes with my eyes closed and envisioned God’s circle in my mind. I decided to add another heart shaped rock to the centre. God’s loving heart is at the centre of my circle. God’s loving heart is where life and light, hope and joy abide and they radiate from throughout our world.
The finished “work of art” sits on my desk as a reminder of God’s embracing presence. It is a wonderful way for me to recentre my soul and my spirit each morning. It inspired the creation of the prayer above and I suspect will inspire other creations in the future.
When I first posted a meditation on circling prayers some years ago, I received several responses from people who were inspired to use their own creative medium to respond. Wonderful colorful doodles, heart shaped designs of shells and rocks and artwork. I invite you also to respond in the way that seems most appropriate for you. What is the creative activity that most inspires you? Perhaps you like to doodle, or knit, or paint. Or you might prefer to garden, or go running or draw on a sandy beach. Or perhaps you like to sing or compose music. All of these creative exercises can be used to craft images that reflect the encircling embrace of God. And please do send us photos we would love to see what you create.
Gather your materials. Sit quietly for a few moments with your eyes closed. Listen to the video below. Repeat the words circle me God Almighty, aloud several times. Draw an imaginary circle and picture God enfolding you in a cloak.
What images come to mind? Express those with your creative gifts.