2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 23,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 5 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.


Finding a Yarn Store

Hey, here’s a post from the young lady I told you about earlier, the very crafty college girl who is spending her summer as an au pair in an Italian seaside town.  OH TO BE YOUNG AND SPENDING A SUMMER IN ITALY!!! In this post, she finds a yarn store. Check out how the yarns are displayed – very Italian. Nothing is out where you can touch it.


Finding a Yarn Store.

The Arizona Rosary

I saw this story on the Internet today and thought of all of you with prayer beads. Here’s an excerpt:

“By 7 p.m., about 25 people are slouched in metal folding chairs on the corner of a dusty lot at Roeser Road and Central Avenue.

Many of them gently weave brightly beaded rosaries through their hands as they recite the “Hail Mary” prayer in Spanish and later, in English.


slideshow Forty days in the desert 2010

“Dios te salve, Maria, llena eres de gracia,” they pray. Teens yell out their car windows at the group. Tires squeal and music blasts. But the eyes of those praying remain closed, heads bowed as they hear the intermittent “click” of each prayer bead as it falls. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee . . . ”

These south-central Phoenix residents have recited the rosary daily since June 13. Each time, they offer a prayer for immigrants and U.S. citizens, and ask God for federal immigration reform that would legalize some undocumented immigrants to keep families together.”

It’s that time of year again – the time when Beliefnet.com holds its annual “Most Inspiring Person of the Year” award and contest. I have been writing the profiles for this “MIPY” package for Beliefnet for the last 3 or 4 years, and I get to talk to all these cool nominees (okay, most of ’em, especially the ones who are still alive!) and write about their accomplishments. I thought this was a particularly strong year.

This year’s heavyweight is Capt. Sully Sullenberger, the pilot who landed the US Airways plane in the middle of the Hudson River last January. Didn’t get to talk to him – despite the fact he’s on a major book and publicity tour and has talked to everyone BUT me. Still, I think he’s gonna be hard to beat. But I did talk to Zach Bonner, the 12-year-old who started his own foundation to benefit homeless kids, and to Jorge Morales, a school bus driver who’s been feeding the down-and-out from his own pocket every day for several years. And I talked to a few more really cool people who all deserve a few minutes of our attention for the lesson they can teach us – it only takes one person to make a difference.

So go to the link above and read the profiles and vote for your favorites – if you can stand the pop-up ads that appear every single time you click on anything on the Beliefnet site. That’s what’s happened since Fox took it over. Sigh.

What a Weekend!

What a great “visit” we all had with Janice Lynne Lundy, our very first guest blogger here on Bead One, Pray Too. We had 23 comments, and, as promised, we will send a copy of Jan’s new book, Your Truest Self to one of the winners. I am going to throw all the names of the people who commented into a pot (minus me!) and have my husband draw one out of a hat. I’ll post the result tomorrow.

For those of you who want more of Jan, today is Monday, so if you go to her blog, Awake is Good, you’ll get her usual feature, “Meditation Monday.” I highly recommend it. It has helped me get my week off to a good start more than once.

Now, sad things. Like most people, I am shocked and sad about the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas last Thursday – the very day Jan visited us and we talked about such positive things. The news today reports that the shooter is awake and talking. But I am sure no one will ever be able to understand the motivation and reasoning behind such a terrible act. And as for whether he is a Muslim or not, I fall in with those who say anyone who claims to be a member of any faith and then commits such an act is a liar and a fake.

So today I ask that we pray for both the victims and the perpetrator of the crime. The victims and their families need our prayers to live with their losses and fears, and the victim needs our prayers to live with the fallout of his acts for the rest of his life. Here’s a prayer from the website From Tears to Hope to get you started:

Prayer for Victims:

I pray and wish that you
have eternal peace with God,
and for you to know that you
are always in our hearts and minds.
I ask that God let you watch over
future victims and alleviate their fear.



JanLundy photo copy-1

Janice Lynne Lundy

Hello, everyone. As I promised in my last post, we have a guest blogger today – Janice Lynne Lundy. Jan is an interfaith spiritual director, spiritual mentor, inspirational speaker and workshop and retreat leader in Michigan. She is the author of three books, the most recent of which is Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Are Meant To Be. We will be giving a away a copy of Your Truest Self to one of today’s commentators in a random drawing.

I met Jan here on this blog, when she left a comment last June, and then asked me to be a guest blogger on her site, Awake is Good, which frequently touches on meditation and other spiritual practices.

Today, Jan prepared the following essay for us on the value of spiritual practices – which includes using prayer beads of all types. I hope you enjoy it – and that at the end, you will post a comment or question for Jan, who will be checking in throughout the day to respond.

Here’s Jan:

Finding Your Ideal Spiritual Practice

We have all witnessed others engaged in meaningful spiritual practices. Bearded men garbed in black, bobbing rhythmically at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. White-robed swamis chanting “Hare Krishna.” A Gospel singer raising the rafters with heartfelt strains of “Amazing Grace.” Sufi Dervishes whirling. African drummers drumming. A lone Buddhist meditating cross-legged on a craggy peak overlooking the ocean. All these and more fill our imaginations, ever hopeful that we, too, might find practices that enliven our spirit.

Spiritual practices, simply put, are those activities that connect us more deeply with the virtues of the Spirit, with the Divine itself, by whatever name we call it. They are practices that provide us with a unique opportunity to experience sacred time and space; to remove ourselves from the distractions and noise of a too busy world, and remember our spiritual connection. Spiritual practices, properly cultivated, enable us to access inner calm, joy, and gratitude for life.

A Feast for the Spirit

The variety of spiritual practices available to us is boundless, as is our understanding of the sacred. There are quiet practices: various forms of prayer, meditation, silence, or sacred reading; active practices: singing, chanting, dancing, worship, or creative expression; and physical practices: yoga, bowing, tai chi, gardening, or mindful walking. Spiritual practices can be done alone or with others. In one’s home, in nature, in a church, temple or mosque, at all times of day or night.

It might seem that we must search long and hard to find the spiritual practices that will nourish and sustain us. In truth, all we need do to uncover them is explore a bit, then listen deeply as we “feel” our way through them. The measuring stick by which we discern whether a particular practice suits us is through body awareness—through the vehicle of our thoughts, physical senses, and emotions.

Any spiritual practice that we try on for size should, initially, have a positive effect upon us. We notice what thoughts we are having; if conscious thought has slowed or disappeared, altogether. Is our body at ease? Are our senses pleased? Are we feeling a sense of connection to our spirit, or with a Higher Power? We listen to what our body/mind says and we honor its wisdom.

With dedication, we will locate the “right” practices for us. By staying faithful to them, we will begin to experience their deeper benefits. The key is dailiness. It takes time for spiritual practices to work their magic upon us—to root us more deeply in the qualities of the spirit. Psychologists tell us it takes twenty-one days to create any new habit, ninety days for that habit to stick. Spiritual practices are no exception. It may take a year or more for them to become an invaluable part of our lifestyle.

Have Practices, Will Travel

A personal spiritual practice, well honed, can also provide comfort and stability in a very busy life. It can dependably deliver us to the shores of peace and well-being no matter where we find ourselves. For example, if nature is our spiritual connector, all we need do is step outside, take a deep breath, and feast our eyes on Mother Nature’s glory. If music enhances our sacred connection, we can plug into that—literally—with an iPod or CD player, in a car or on an airplane. Books for inspirational reading can be taken anywhere, as can a yoga mat or prayer rug for devotional practice. Have practices, will travel, I say. It is sound and wise for us to cultivate spiritual practices that can be done alone, anytime, anywhere.

Becoming the Practice

In time, the lines of distinction between ourselves and the spiritual practice will begin to blur. We actually become the practice. Its benefits—inner calm, openheartedness, generosity of spirit—meld into us. One day we may actually awaken to realize that we not only feel more loving, be we have become more loving; that we do not just feel more peaceful, but that we have become a peaceful presence in the world. Our friends and family confirm this. They tell us we are different; that we have changed for the better.

Ultimately, by engaging in spiritual practices, we have not only benefited ourselves, but we have done the world a great service. Perhaps, unknowingly, we have succeeded at what peacemaker Mahatma Gandhi invited us to:

To be the change we so desperately wish to see

in the world today.bookthumbnail

And this is Kimberly again – I LOVE this quote from Ghandi, don’t you? This should be our prayer today – say it with or without prayer beads: “Lord, make me the change we so desperately wish to see in the world today.”

Jan, I’ll start with a question: My biggest problem with spiritual practice (in my case, the regular use of prayer beads as a means for meditation) is sticking with it. I have a terrible time keeping my mind still and focused on my prayer. I get discouraged. Can you give me some advice on how to tap into that quiet place? And I fear am I too hard on myself when I don’t stay in that place for very long – and that just makes me want to avoid going there – and failing to do it – again? What benefit will I gain by being easier on myself?

Jan Lundy

Well, here’s a first for Bead One, Pray Too – a guest blogger! I hope you will all join me in welcoming Janice Lynne Lundy to this corner of the internet on Thursday, Nov. 5.

Let me tell you a bit about Jan, who I met when she wrote into this blog several months ago. Jan is an interfaith spiritual director, inspirational speaker and the author of several books, the most recent being Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You are Meant to Be. She lives in Michigan and conducts retreats and workshops all over the place.

Your Truest Self is part memoir, part spiritual workbook. In it, Jan shares her very rich experiences as a spiritual seeker among mystics, artists, teachers and other wise women. She takes what she gleaned from them and distills them into “Twelve Truths” that can help us find the person inside us that God wants us to be. And while the book is written for women, men will find some true jewels in here, too.

Let me give you a sample:

“As our journeys unfold, each of us will need to determine what it is we have come to know as personal truth. “Know thyself,” Socrates said, for self-knowledge will lead to God-knowledge. “Tell me your beliefs, and I will tell you who you are,” said another, unknown philosopher, indicating that our beliefs form the basis of how we choose to live. To walk in the world as our truest selves we must first uncover the core beliefs that form the basis of our thoughts, feelings, and actions, whether they be lofty or base, original or borrowed, true or false for us.

And so I pose this same question to you that I have posed to myself many times over the years: Who are you, and what do you really believe?”

Jan very kindly asked me to guest blog on her site, Awake is Good last August and I had a fantastic time. Her readers asked me very thoughtful, well-considered questions, so I hope you all will return the favor! Heres how it is going to work – Jan has prepared a beautiful essay on the value of spiritual practices and how we can each find our ideal one. For many of us, this is prayer beads, but there is also meditation of many types, art, dance, singing, reading – oh my goodness, so many. I know you will find Jan insightful about all things contemplative and prayerful, as I have. I’ll post Jan’s essay early Thursday morning and she’ll check in to answer your questions through the day. I’ll pop in and out too – I already see a great prayer in her essay that can be used on prayer beads. And on Monday, we’ll give away a copy of Jan’s very fine book to one of you who has chimed in.

So, see you all here on Thursday, Nov. 5.

All Saints, All Souls

Boo, everyone! Stop eating that leftover Halloween candy. I had 4 bags and 0 trick-or-treaters. But I have eaten only one piece of candy. My secret? I only buy candy I don’t like.

This is a busy weekend for Christians and Sikhs (more on that later). After the Saturday Halloween festivities, Sunday dawned on All Saints Day. This is a Christian holiday, though when I was growing up it was only really marked by Catholics and Anglicans/Episcopalians. But in the last 20 years or so, more Protestant groups have recognized the value of remembering the lives of the mystics and seers who came before us, whether they name them “saints” or not.

And today is All Souls Day, another Christian holiday largely celebrated by the more liturgically-based churches, that commemorates those who have died before us. Now, if you are Catholic, you are remembering specifically those who have gone before us and may not yet be in heaven. No matter what your faith, remembering and praying for those who are gone is a good thing.

So, in that spirit, here is a prayer to use on prayer beads or alone for the saints and souls we want to remember for what they can teach us – love, patience and the value of living life to the fullest. It comes from the United Methodist Church’s  “Remembering the Saints: 21st Century Resource for All Saints Day” by Rev. Nathan Decker

You, Lord, have shown us light:
The light of a million candles sharing their faith.

The light of saints past,
the living tradition of the redeemed,
the resurrection retelling,
the passing of this flame from generation to generation.

We Remember,
We Remember,
We Remember, and
because of you in them, we walk in the candlelight of Christ.

And I promised a word about Sikhism.  Today, Sikhs around the world celebrate Guru Nanak Jayanti, the birthday of Guru Nanak, the founder of their faith. Sikhs celebrate by reading the Guru Granth Sahib, their sacred text, aloud and sing hymns and have feasts. I urge you, if you live anywhere near a gurdwara, (and you probably do!)  to stop by there on this day or any other. In my experience as a religion reporter, I have found Sikhs to always be most welcoming of people to their temples and their festivities. Like most people, all they crave is understanding. You will probably also get a lovely and graciously-served vegetarian meal out of it. If you like, go in the spirit of All Souls Day to remember the Arizona Sikh killed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks because someone thought his turban meant he was a Muslim. Go and remember andenjoy.

Here is a prayer attributed to Guru Nanak himself. I think you’ll see it will work for people of many faiths:

“The True One was there from time immemorial.

He is there today and ever there you will find Him.

He never died nor will he ever die . . .

Look within, you will see Him there enshrined.”

Richmond Gang Rape

I see it has been more than a month since I posted. And I sure didn’t anticipate coming back with this post. But as I woke this morning, my heart was so heavy with this story (which happened last weekend) I feel I must write about it to alleviate the pain it is causing me.

As many of you may have heard by now, a 15-year-old girl was gang raped at a homecoming dance at a high school in Richmond, Calif.  Richmond is the next town south of us. The girl’s ordeal last  more than 2 hours and was witnessed by at least 20 students and other young people. No one called 911. No one came to her aid. Many of the kids joined in the girl’s beating and rape or took videos of what was happening or just stood by.  You can read about the incident here. National Public Radio has had two programs on the story, which you can listen to here and here.

This incident has  just burdened my heart. I am just old enough to remember the murder of Kitty Genovese in Kew Gardens, NY – also a few towns away from where I was living as a child. I remember picking up on the terror and the horror of her story, probably transmitted to me by the adults around me – most of them single women like my mom and Kitty.

This kind of crime is something that happens in a war zone, in a place where the societal framework has entirely broken down. This is something that happens in Bosnia. This is something that happens in Rwanda. This is something that should not happen in this country. No excuses.

I am asking today that we pray for the victim, of course. I cannot imagine what this girl is going through right now or what her life will be like in the wake of such a trauma. But I also ask that we pray for everyone who was a part of this crime – and every witness to what happened is as guilty as the rapists themselves in my book. Why? Because I can’t help asking myself what their inaction says about the brutality and hopelessness of their own lives. Where did they learn that such behavior is okay? From their parents? From their peers? Can you imagine the deserts of their souls? How immoral, how unfeeling, how hopeless does a person – a teenager – have to be to watch the gang rape of a peer and do nothing?

So here is the prayer I am saying today on my prayer beads. It is from Women’s Uncommon Prayers: Our Lives Revealed, Nurtured, Celebrated, and is by Julia Park Rodrigues, a contributor to the book. The original is in the first-person. I have adapted it so that we can pray for others. It is titled “For Peace After Sexual Assault.

Loving God, we know that you hold us in the palm of your hand.

We know it is so.

But why, O Lord, why?

We rage at this sin against one of us, at this defilement of her body, this assault on her peace of mind.

We mourn her lost serenity, security, confidence;

We mourn the loss of her ease and open nature.

We hate what this assault has done to her.

We feel that her body and soul may never be the same.

What has been forced on her may not be forgotten.

But send your healing on her like cool rain.

Soothe her spirit with the balm of your tender love.

Help her to feel secure again, as safe as ever within the shelter of the Lord.

Let her anger not turn inward to self-loathing,

but outward for action and purpose: to help other like her,

to bring hope to those whose faith is not so strong.

Help her, with your grace,

to moove beyond victim, to call herself survivor instead.

May you (and we and she) forgive this offense against her

and grant her the peace and serenity

of a mind and body made whole again.


Spiritually On Empty

Gee, that’s a cheery title. But it is really how I am feeling these days. No real cause – no sickness, death or sadness in my circle of family and friends; no mid-life crisis; no loss or suffering. Just having trouble these days raising the energy it takes to pray or practice.

That’s why I’ve been silent for longer than usual. I do not want anyone to worry. I am looking at this as a natural cycle. Your car’s gas tank routinely runs low, why should it not be the same for our spirit’s gas tank? The question is how to fill it up again? And I am not sure I know the answer to that. I am kinda sitting around waiting for – excuse the phrase – the spirit to move me.

In the meantime, I would love to post comments from readers about how they deal with their own spiritual desert. Do you turn to certain books, scriptures, friends, family? Do you try to take hikes or walks in inspirational places? Do you seek help from spiritual advisors? What helps replenish your soul?

Now that is off my chest, I want to turn to something to pray for. I was listening to National Public Radio this morning and there was an excellent, heartbreaking story from reporter Tom Bowman about a U.S. Marine killed in Afghanistan in 2006. His name was Sgt. Jared Monti, and today his family will be present with the Medal of Honor by President Obama at the White House. You can hear the original report here. What you need to know is Sgt. Monti’s soldiers came under heavy and very close fire by Taliban troops. One man went down and when another man wanted to go and get him, Sgt. Monti said No, he is my guy. I go get him. He was mortally wounded in the attempt, and as he lay dying, with his other troops trying to reach him, he called out, “Tell my family I am good with God and I love them.”

Sigh. What can I say after that? It struck me to the quick and I thought I would ask us all to pray for Sgt. Monti and his family. And if you feel so moved, there is a scholarship fund set up in his name. Here’s a military prayer that comes from Beliefnet, contributed by one of its members, named Maury1. I think you can adapt it to your particular faith by changing the divine address, if you feel the need to. I do not know what faith Sgt. Monti followed, but I would assume it was Christianity:

Dear Lord Jesus and Mary, Mother of God,
Hold all these brave souls in the palm of your hand, comfort them and their families.

Send angels of protection, love, and comfort to all the service men and women still at war,
bring them home safely and comfort their families.

We ask all our prayers in Jesus’ name. Amen.

– Beliefnet member maury1