I spent the past weekend at an exciting conference in Anaheim, CA called the LA Religious Education Congress. Over 35,000 Christians, mostly Catholic, gathered to hear speakers, browse the book exhibits, network with new and old friends, and worship together. As a small city of people we waited in long lines to use the restrooms, to ascend the escalators for our workshop locations, and to find a seat in worship.
With so many people in less than a city-sized space we were bound to bump into each other or to inadvertently touch each other. The number of embarrassed and frustrated “Excuse me“s and “I’m sorry“s I heard and said was legion. I remembered too late what I learned in Interplay—a practice which teaches community-building and body-wisdom through play. In Interplay when we bump into each other we say, “Thank-you!” Not only does this ironic response dispel the embarrassment but it reminds us that we are “one bread, one body.” (1Corinthians 10:17) When my safely-guarded space intersects with someone else’s, I can decide how to respond. I can be miffed or I can apologize or I can be grateful that two grains from the cosmic loaf have shared a moment of embodied communion.
So I would like to reframe my apologies for the past weekend’s cutaneous collisions and just say “Thank you.”
Because there is one loaf, our many-ness becomes one-ness – Christ doesn’t become fragmented in us. Rather, we become unified in him. We don’t reduce Christ to what we are; he raises us to what he is. 1Corinthians 10:17–The Message
I like the theme for my 2012 Lenten calendar–names for God. When I look at the collection so far, I notice both the richness and the inadequacy of the words. How many names would it take to accurately describe the vastness and magnificence of our God?–many more than I know.
The calendar reminded me of another visual image. When my younger son was small, he said, “I think God is like a big patchwork quilt. Each patch is a different kind of skin or fur or feather of all of the creatures in the world.” I loved the image of this quilt and imagined it extending infinitely in every direction. Being wrapped in this spectacular, endless quilt of God would be a lush, comforting (and maybe a little terrifying) experience.
Quilt drawing from the back cover of Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God, Paraclete Press, 2007
St. Patrick’s Day celebrates 5th-century Patrick who escaped from slavery in Ireland to his homeland of Wales. He returned to Ireland to share the Gospel as an ordained bishop of the Church. After his death he became the patron saint of Ireland.
One of my favorite Irish/Celtic prayers is the following–a version which John Michael Talbot sings on his 1984 album The God of Life. The title of the song is God.
God to enfold me,
God to surround me,
God in my speaking,
God in my thinking.
God in my sleeping,
God in my waking,
God in my watching,
God in my hoping.
God in my life,
God in my lips,
God in my soul,
God in my heart.
God in my sufficing,
God in my slumber,
God in mine ever-living soul,
God in mine eternity.*
This is a “sitting with God” prayer in which the only shapes used are the clover leaf and arcs (flat U’s). Choosing just two shapes keeps my focus on the prayer and not on the drawing. The repetitiveness of drawing leaves and arcs helps me to be still on the inside.
* Prayer source—www.worldprayers.org
Here is the Lenten calendar of my friend Cindy of Mostly Markers. Cindy includes the names of people as well as words associated with Lent on her calendar. About the word sufficient, she says: “I was surprised by the word and drawing “sufficient.” Not sure where that came from, but it felt very strong to me. Like a sufficiency of grace in the midst of gray.”
Sounds like one of my favorite quotes from Paul: “But he (God) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2Corinthians 12:9 NIV)
1. Welcome to my new blog. Check out the rest of the website too! After five years, I decided prayingincolor.com needed a facelift. The wonderful designers at Paraclete Press have just finished several months of creative work; I’m pleased and grateful.
The new blog format allows me to add color, change fonts, and play a little more. My husband and co-author of Praying in Black and White: A Hands-On Practice for Men, Andy, will add occasional posts to the blog site, too.
2. If you’re in the New Orleans area this weekend, I’ll be leading a 3-hour workshop at Christ Church, Covington, LA on Saturday morning, March 10. Click here for more info. Tell your Louisiana friends to come pray.
Below is my calendar of God names. What I notice is the number of songs I associate with the words.
“When God Almighty came to be one of us,
Masking the glory of his golden train.
Dozens of plain things kindled by accident,
And they will never be the same again.
(Author, Michael Hewlett?)
Creator of the stars of night,
Your people’s everlasting light,
O Christ, Redeemer of us all,
We pray you hear us when we call.
(6th, 7th or 9th century chant, Latin, Hymnal 1940 version)
The gentle Healer came
Into our town today
He touched blind eyes
And the darkness left to stay
But more than the blindness,
He took their sins away
The gentle Healer came
Into our town today.