Paisley Prayers and Coloring Page

In a recent comment to a blog post, someone suggested using paisley shapes for prayers. When I was a teenager I sewed several blouses and dresses with paisley designs on them. They were deep teal and dark red fabrics. I loved the basic tear-droppish shape and the intricate patterns inside of them. I’ve been drawing paisley shapes for the past week with varied success and many variations on a theme. Below is a sheet of paisley shapes.

What I notice about the page is the large paisley in the middle and the smaller versions all around it. The smaller ones look like swaddled babies. And I like the idea. So here is an idea or suggestion: Use this page as a framework for intercessory prayer. Write the name you call God in the large paisley. As you color the shape and maybe even add more lines and dots, ask God to be part of this prayer time–ask with or without words. Then imagine the other smaller shapes as children and images of God, each swaddled in God’s love and care. Write the name of someone you are praying for in each shape. Think of each person as “made in the image and likeness of God.” Pray for them with words, with swaths of color, and with silence. If words come to you, pray them. If words do not come, know that you are still praying for them. Maybe even write words or hopes for the person near the shape. After praying for each person, say an “Amen” or other words of letting go.

The prayer doesn’t have to be completed in one sitting. Add names as you think of them during the day or week. Revisit the people you have already prayed for. Place the page in a place where you see it. Let it be a reminder to you to pray for each person again.

Below is my partially finished prayer and a template. You can download the uncolored page as a .pdf or .jpg. Remember to download first, then print.

Paisley Template Colored Resized 2










Paisley Template Resized








pdf   or    jpg

Plein Air Doodling and Spirograph Template

Some of my best friends are artists–real ones. They have easels and oil paints and watercolors–the whole artist kaboodle. The results on their canvases actually look like what they attempted to paint. Today I was lucky enough to go with three friends while they painted in a beautiful garden on the edge of the Blue River. I sat in the midst of a cluster of huge stones near the river surrounded by an abundance of colorful wildflowers. While my friends stood at easels and painted the still-snow-topped mountains, the water, the flowers, and the trees, I doodled/prayed a birthday card for one of my nieces. “You are a plein air doodler,” said my friend Amy.

Even though I would love to be able to draw or paint a flower that looked like a flower, I enjoyed the en plein air (in open air) experience of being in nature with friends and soaking up the sun and the lush summer ambience. Inspired by all of the flowers, I held up my pre-drawn birthday template and traced the shadows of several wildflowers and weeds on the sides of the paper. I didn’t know how to add the actual details of the flowers, so I customized the tracings with some quirky lines and stripes and colored them.The result was playful and for a whole hour my need for artistic competence vanished.

Lennon Bday 2015 resized













To make a spirograph template similar to the one I used for the card, here are some simple instructions:

1) Cut out a random shape on card stock or cardboard.
2) Use a push pin and tack the shape onto white paper on top of a piece of cork or corrugated cardboard. Rotate the shape around once to make sure it fits on the paper.
3) Trace around the shape with a pencil or pen.
4) Rotate the shape and trace around it again. If you want lots of intricate spaces in the template, rotate the shape a small amount. If you want larger spaces, move it more. I think I counted sixteen tracings in the template below. Try to rotate the shape the same amount each time.

Spirograph and Corkboard











Below is the template I used for the card,  Click on the word jpg or pdf to download. Make sure to download first, then print.

 .jpg       OR      .pdf

Spirograph Template 2015 resized




Heart Templates Coloring Page

I am not a hearts, flowers, or butterfly kind of woman. So I am surprised to notice how many times I have started my prayers with a large heart in the center of the page. Here are some ways I have used the heart templates:
1) For couples getting married
2) For friends struggling in their marriages or relationships
3) For celebration of anniversaries
4) For praying about my hardness of heart or the need for a change of heart
5) For friends with heart disease or friends having heart surgery
6) For resentments that threaten to damage my heart
7) For just about any issue in which loving or not loving takes center stage

These are prayers for two men with open heart surgery. Sometimes I write words like hope, recovery, release, healing…in the spaces. OR I might even write my concerns or fears.

Heart Collage Cropped
Here are two heart templates to download. Click on the jpg or pdf below the desired template. (Download before you print for best results.)

Heart Template Collage Cropped

                      jpg  OR    pdf                                                          jpg   OR   pdf

In the heart I’ll write the name of a person or a name for God. Then I’ll start to doodle or color. The coloring and doodling invite my body into the prayer and give the rest of me a time to settle. I don’t chase words away when I pray this way, I just don’t force words. Dumping everything on my mind into God’s ear is a good starting place. However, instead of just ending the prayer when the words run out, I keep drawing and coloring. This creates a prayer time and a prayer space. It gives me a way to stay with the prayer and not run as soon as I’ve had my say or am bored. It is often in the quiet, no-effort times that my real prayers come or that real listening happens.

Feel free to say words or write words while you color. Use the template in any way that enhances your prayer.

Praying in Color Coloring Pages

Some people tell me they like the idea of Praying in Color but feel unable to doodle. So here are three pre-doodled, coloring prayer templates to download with suggested ways to use them. Partially colored examples of prayers are next to the template. Each template is available as a .pdf or .jpg. Click on the desired version below the image. Download the template, then print it.

A. Choose a name for God–Almighty One, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Creator…– and write it in the big space in the center of the page. Writing the name is a way to invite God into your time and to center yourself for listening. Start to color with markers, pencils, gel pens,…. Feel free to add additional lines and arcs if you want more spaces for color. In some of the empty spaces write words that come to you. Or write the names of people for whom you want to pray. Think of each stroke as a non-verbal prayer. Coloring in this template can be a time for just you and God OR a time of prayer for you, God, and other people.

Coloring Template Collage 1 resized

.pdf  OR  .jpg

B. Use this template in the same way as A.

Colored Prayer Template Collage 2 resized

.pdf  OR .jpg

C. This template is intended for intercessory prayer. Start by praying the words along the vine. Feel feel to write your God name in one of the large leaves. Then in another large leaf, write the name of someone you are praying for. Color the shape and its details. Add more detail if you want. Color the smaller leaves around it. Then pray for another person by writing the name in another leaf. Write names in the smaller, blank leaves or add your own doodles.

Coloring Template 3 collage resized 1000

.pdf   OR  .jpg

P.S. Let me know what you think of this idea, please.


Longtime Marriage

Sunday was Andy’s and my 46th wedding anniversary. We have been married for 70% of our lives. When we said “I will” to the beautiful and daunting vows in an Episcopal church, Andy was so young his parents had to sign a permission slip for the state of Maryland. “Yes, little Andy has our blessing to go on a lifelong field trip with Sybil.” It was a crazy thing Andy and I did. If we had been older we would have had the sense to be more scared. But we were convinced we were supposed to take this journey together.

I’ve been trying to write a post about our longtime marriage, but everything I write seems sappy or self-righteous. A few phrases and their visual images offer a playful, but succinct summary for me.

a playground,
a training ground,
a stomping ground
a campground,
a feeding ground,
a breeding ground,
a battleground,
a fairground,
a background,
a foreground,
an underground,
Holy Ground.

But another word that keeps popping up in my brain is community. Marriage is community. Without the myriad number of people in our lives who have encouraged us, chastised us, guided us, loved us, and prayed for us, we would not be together today. As a tight little twosome, we do not have the energy, creativity, or wisdom to weather the changes and challenges of growing up and living with another person. Support and training have come from both likely and unlikely sources. Family, friends, Christians, non-Christians, married people, single people, divorced people, old people, children. Clergy, therapists, authors, colleagues, alcoholics, addicts. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2 NRSV) For this journey, God has given us teachers and angels with many different faces. Our marriage is not just about the two of us. It is a communal undertaking.

Longtime Mariage Cropped

Calendar Collaboration

As we near the end of the Easter season, I have a last set of Lenten calendars to share. Linda S. and her adult daughter collaborated on Advent calendars back in last December and decided to work together again during Lent. Since they had trouble choosing which Lenten calendar template to use, they decided to use all four! They each only worked on two of the calendars per day and swapped the calendars back and forth on a regular basis. Each calendar was a joint effort.

I love the idea of a prayer collaboration, of passing the calendars back and forth. Sounds like a prayer exercise for a prayer or church group or family. But why wait until next Advent or Lent? Use a simple calendar template for the month and pass it around among the members of your prayer/church group or members of your family.

Here is the explanation for each of their calendars:

  • The hexagon grid was where we prayed for individuals or groups. We were surprised at some of the people we felt compelled to pray for, but did our best not to ignore or judge those impulses.
  • The “path” grid that includes a few dates has words from the lectionary readings. However, we didn’t limit ourselves to the sequence, other than on the few dated shapes. We realize the words aren’t obvious and think in a few weeks even we won’t be able to identify all the words. One reads bottom to top rather than top to bottom and fools us repeatedly. Another, beginning with O, reads from outside to inside.
  •  Our spiral format is “anything goes” and we filled in without regard to sequence.
  • The calendar grid is also “anything goes” with the exception that each individual block has a black line that intersects each of its four borders. The lines don’t always go straight through from top to bottom, or side to side, but it is entertaining to follow them.

Linda--Lent Collage 1 resized

Linda--Lent Collage 2 resized

Expectancy, Not Expectation in Prayer

When I began praying in color, I did it out of desperation. I was praying for almost a dozen people  in my life with terrible cancers and I was left wordless in prayer. Doodling, sitting dumbstruck, and just releasing my friends into God’s care were the only things I could do. After a dozen years of praying this way and with a retrospective eye, I see this way of praying as “being expectant” rather than “having expectations.”

Prayer, for me, has often meant a list of specific requests and the expectation of specific results: “Heal John.” “Make my kids do what I think they should do.” “Make me a nice person.” “Tell me exactly where to live and what to do with my life.” My prayers for healing and direction will be answered. Isn’t that the promise? “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 (NIV) I don’t always–maybe not even often–get the direct, specific response I want.

Advent, my favorite season of the year, has taught me to be “expectant” rather than to have “expectations.” Though the roots of the words are the same, the first feels like an attitude of wide-eyed openness and humility rather than a sense of entitlement and arrogance that the second implies. “An expectation is a premeditated resentment” says the daily reader The Courage to Change on p.153. If I “expect” to get what I want, I may not just be bitterly disappointed, but also resentful. And when I expect specific results in prayer and don’t get what I ask, I resent God and sometimes even conclude that God does not exist. “Expectancy” helps me to honor the possibilities beyond my wants and my imagination. It bows before the wisdom and creativity of a Power way bigger than my puny, often self-focused mindset.

So when I doodle in prayer I try to let go of my expectations and trust God. “Here’s what I think I want, God; now it’s yours.” God knows the real needs and has marvelous things in mind for my friends and for me. “Healing always takes place,” says my priest friend Merry. “It just may look and feel different than we ever imagined.”

Expectancy resized

Praying the Scripture with Doodles/Drawings–Holy Week

For Holy Week I created a circle-a-day template to house a-word-a day from the daily Gospel readings from Palm Sunday through Holy Saturday. I suggested writing a three-sentence story to summarize the gleanings from the words. This idea can be used for any daily readings from Scripture, not just for special liturgical events.

Here are two examples from Holy Week:

The first is from Debbie Detten Huff. She describes her intent: “As I committed to walking the Holy Week’s readings and praying with them, I found that the words that
were shimmering for me were the ones that pointed to first Jesus’ love and patience for those around him and then the love shown to him. About mid-week, the phrases “where is the love?” and Mister Rogers’ “Look for the helpers” (when there is so much tragedy around that it can be overwhelming) became welcomed companions as I read these difficult readings.
Holy Week Debbie Detten Huff Resized

At the end of the week Debbie wrote her story:
“When troubled and wondering “where is the love?,” remain near, tethered to the one who cares deeply for you. Like a shepherd who tends his beloved sheep, he will wash your weary body, and raise and soothe your tired spirit. Follow him. . . he can be trusted.” 
Thank you, Debbie.

For my template I chose a word each day and first brainstormed about the word. Then I doodled, listened, and wrote other words that came to me. My words were a combination of strong verbs and visual nouns.

Holy Week 2015 Lectio Divina Resized


“Untie your hair and anoint the feet of the Holy One with perfume. He in turn serves you as a slave, washing and drying your feet with a towel. For this surprising humility and seeming weakness, we betray, mock, and crucify Him, unaware that no stone can contain or repress the power of this radical, unexpected God.”



Lenten Calendars 4

From Debbie Huff “Here’s my Lenten Butterfly Spiral intent:  Making a butterfly a day felt like it might be a wonderful way for me to come in thru the Lenten back door, with an eye towards Hope. So that’s what I did.”

Thanks to everyone who shared their calendars.

Debbei Detten Huff Collage Resized



Lenten Calendars 3

Two more Lenten Calendars:

Gwyn Varozza says, “I’ve struggled to believe that I’m included in what God says that we
are…so I decided to pray about what I thought God was telling me I
am…even if I don’t feel like I am.”

Gwyn Varozza Lent 2015











Catherine Windsor:  “As a hospice chaplain, I find that doing this Lenten practice was a journey to quietness and stillness, creativity and language [I love words], prayer and contemplation.”

Catherine Windsor