Archive for the ‘Prayer Bead Makers’ Category

Check out this wonderful post from a Baltimore-based woman named Anne who makes Anglican rosaries. She has decided to start a series of posts about birthstone rosaries, and is beginning with June – pearls and alexandrites. Here is an excerpt:

“Everywhere, pearls represent purity, innocence, and integrity. In the book of Revelations, the Gates of Heaven are made of pearls. The pearl is the national gemstone of Saudi Arabia, France, the Philippines, and India. They are the traditional birthstone for June and are given as gifts for the thirtieth wedding anniversary as well as for First Communion.”

Anne also has an Etsy store where she sells her handmade Anglican rosaries and other jewelry. I learned something from Anne’s post on pearls and alexandrites and so I will link to her monthly birthstone rosary post. In the meantime, let’s all go out and get some faux pearls and some Swarovski alexandrite crystals and make a rosary or other form of prayer beads for someone with a June birthday – or perhaps a June bride?


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Happy New Year all! I am sorry for the long time, no blog. I have been down with flu this whole week and am now behind in work, housework and everything else. Ugh.

A couple of days ago, I received a very nice comment from a man named Larry Gray in response to my much earlier post on Baha’i Prayer Beads. Here is a bit of what Larry had to say (to see the full comment, go to the original post and scroll down):

“I make prayer beads that are sold in Baha’i bookstores and I send them in “Vahids” [groups of 19, as Baha’i prayer beads have 19 beads] rather than dozens, just to help establish the tradition.

Baha'i Prayer Beads

Baha'i Prayer Beads

As to all [Baha’is] not using prayer beads – it is often that we haven’t established the habit of praying regularly. Baha’i is a gentle religion and we are not threatened with hellfire for not following our traditions. I am getting better as I grow older – hopefully a bit wiser. My knuckle counting friends tell me it is less distracting than beads. I see their point. I have beads made of seeds and seashells and semiprecious sonte and I love to look at and handle them.

I also do a display of prayer beads and prayer aids (tallit shawls, Native American prayer feathers, etc) from all the major religions. It is a visual feast at programs where I present them. It fascinates me how much in common they have.”

I like the fact that Larry seems to see the world’s religions much the way I do – that we all have much more in common than we have that separates us and that the very common use of prayer beads is an example of this. So I asked Larry, who says he was a Catholic before becoming a Baha’i, what he found was both the same and different about the Catholic rosary and Baha’i prayer beads. Here is a portion of his response:

Prayer beads are a fascinating tool in that they are so similar in the various religions, just as the religions themselves are more similar than different. All religions promote prayer, marriage, spirituality, peace, etc. What differs is the culture in which it lives, so marriage ceremonies, for example, are different around the world, but marriage is the same. Repetitive prayer helps us relax and communicate with the inner, spiritual self. The idea behind prayer beads is minimize the need to count prayers, a left brained function, and move into the more spiritual right brain where one is more likely to be moved and inspired.

Catholic (the major Christian sect until the middle ages) has had many styles of prayer beads called c[h]aplets, but by far the most popular has become the rosary. Lore has it that St. Dominic was given the rosary by the Blessed Virgin in a vision. Rosary comes from the Latin for rose and suggests that one is in a spiritual rose garden when praying the rosary. Other apparitions of Mary, such as at Fatima, also reinforce the importance of the rosary.

Baha’is, whose original culture comes out of the Moslem [Muslim] traditions also started out with 99 beads, but were soon given a set of 95 beads divided into five sets of nineteen beads each. Nineteen is the number of original believers named “Letters of the Living,” similar to Christian apostles. Nineteen of something, including these prayers is called a Vahid, named for the last member of the Letters of the Living. Baha’is recite the chant “Allah’u-Abha (God is Most Glorious) on each bead usually first thing in the morning. Interestingly, some Baha’is don’t need prayer beads. They find them distracting. Instead, they count on their knuckles and the tips of the fingers, adding up to nineteen.

You asked about the differences between Baha’i prayers and the Catholic rosary. The rosary has different prayers, ten of this, one of that, etc. One must think about where one is in the scheme of the beads, but is does give a pleasant musical rhythm to the process. Baha’i prayers are the same chant on all the beads, this being a more calming and less thoughtful and rhythmic experience. Needless to say, neither is better than the other, just different.

I must tell you, I have made and sold prayer beads for years, mostly Baha’i, some rosaries and others. Over the years, I have added a small strand of five beads onto the end of the ninety-five. The reason is that sometimes we chant some prayers in multiples of 100 and can use the extra beads to keep even. It has become popular with some other Baha’i bead makers as well, but darned if it doesn’t look a bit more like a rosary! I also sometimes say a slightly different prayer on each of the nineteenth beads. “You can take the boy out of the Catholic Church but you can’t take the church out of the boy.”

Thanks so much for this, Larry.If any of you live in Maine, you might go and see Larry present a talk on prayer beads this Sunday (MY BIRTHDAY!!!) for the Bahai’s of Eliot, Maine. BRRRRRR!!!!

Anyone else out there have something to say about two different prayer bead traditions that they have personal experience with? How are they the same and different? How has your experience with one informed your experience of the other?

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bead-boutique-rosary-1I hope you have noticed that one of the lists I keep on the right side of this blog is of local bead stores in the U.S. that offer classes in rosary and/or prayer bead making. I was updating the list about a week ago – sadly, two or three stores had not only stopped offering the class, they had completely closed their doors! – and I sent out a query to all the remaining stores asking them to send me pictures of their rosary/prayer bead samples. I also said I would welcome any pictures of rosaries/prayer beads made by students in the classes.

So far, the great women of Bead Boutique in North Canton, Ohio are the only ones who have gotten back to me with pictures. Hey, what is it about Northeast Ohio and prayer beads? Some of you may remember a post I wrote about the fantastic women of Bonita Bead Boutique in Maumee, Ohio who hosted a trunk show of the prayer beads pictured in my book in their store last April. LOTS of prayer beading going on up there! Anyway, Bead Boutique’s Kathy, Jen and Megan sent two pictures of the samples they use to promote the class and promised to send some of their students’ work after the next class. So today – Christmas Eve – enjoy these pictures! I hope they inspire you to make some prayer beads today. I am particularly fond of the aurora borealis strand! bead-boutique-rosary-2

Tonight, I head off to church for the “midnight” service, a time I always look forward to. As usual, my prayer beads will go with me.

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Got this fabulous message from Sharon Renick, a prayer beader who lives in Trinidad, Texas, about 70 miles southeast of Dallas. I wanted to share it with you because it illustrates the serendipity of faith, the value of spiritual practices like prayer beads, and the power of taking control of your own prayer life and relationship with God.

“I want to share with you how I came to know about prayer beads.  I’m not the best house keeper in the world. I’ve also had many different hobbies over the years.  So, when I start looking for that one particular thing, it can turn into a rummaging around hunt through a lot of different boxes.  One day I was looking for some beads and had pulled out several boxes of stuff.  I finally found the beads and started putting the other things away.  When I had finished, I noticed a book, A String & A Prayer, by Eleanor Wiley [and Maggie Oman Shannon] laying on the table near where I had been placing things.  I didn’t remember putting the book there.  I didn’t remember seeing the book in any of the boxes I had gone through and I didn’t remember ever buying the book.  I have no idea how long I’d had it, but I was supposed to find it that day.  I read it, savoring every word.  It spoke to me in a way that nothing has in a long time.  I looked at Eleanor’s website.  I found your website and started hunting for your book.  I finally had to order yours online because I couldn’t find it anywhere I went.  While I waited for it to come in, I read every entry in your blog back to the beginning.  Getting your book in the mail that day, was like a having Christmas!  Now, I carry both books around and I’ve started a prayer journal where I write the prayers that speak to me.  I also can’t stay off the beading sites! renick-photo-2

“I’ve never attended a church regularly in my life.  My father had actually wanted to be a minister when he was very young, but turned away from God around the age of 14 when his mother died.  So, we were not bought up in the church.  My husband was raised Catholic, but does not practice the religion at all and never even talks about it now.  I try to respect his wishes and not press him on the subject.  So, I have no particular denomination other than being Christian.

renick-photo-11“I’ve only been making rosaries for a little over a month.  My favorite prayers so far have been the ones that I’ve gotten from your book or website.  I love the Julian of Norwich Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, the Jesus Prayer, several of the Psalms and the Serenity Prayer to name a few.  My husband has constant back pain, so I’ve adapted one of the prayers in your book for him.  It’s the one that was adapted from The Book of Common Prayer and is listed as a Prayer of Healing.  I use it almost every night.  The first time I read the Merton Prayer (I think it was on your website) I cried.  I often say it as one of my final prayers of the night.  It’s just beautiful.

“I almost always use a variety prayers each night.  I may use four different ones on the weeks and two different ones on each of the other beads or groups.  I’ve found that I really enjoy so many of them, that I hate to limit myself to repeating the same ones, most nights.

“Thank you for your website and book.  You’ve added a lot to my life.”

Sharon’s beautiful note just about did me in. I started to cry. It is stories like hers that make all the writing of the book – the solitude, the self-doubt, the feelings of inadequacy to the task – absolutely worth it. Thank you, Sharon.  You are in my heart and my prayers.

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I came home today and opened the mailbox to find a package inside from Brother Nathan-James, an Anglican brother in Buranda, Australia. When I opened it up, inside was this lovely Anglican rosary he made just for me.

I first connected with Brother Nathan-James more than year ago when I was researching Bead One, Pray Too. A Google search for “Anglican rosary” turned him up and the fact that he teaches workshops in making and using them in Australia. We started up an email correspondence, and his writing to me in no small way informed what I eventually wrote in the book.

A couple of weeks ago, he emailed me to tell me he had started his own blog on the subject of Anglican prayer beads and wanted to talk a little “blogging shop.” And out of his kindness, he asked if he could send me a set of prayer beads he made.

And you all know – I NEVER turn down a set of prayer beads!

Along with the beads he sent this very cool booklet he wrote that he gives to people who take his workshop. It is called “The Anglican Rosary: Contemporary practice of the ancient tradition of prayer and meditation using prayer beads.” Inside, it has a history of prayer beads, a description of the Anglican rosary, how to pray it and how to make it. It also has some wonderful suggestions for personalizing your Anglican rosary (like picking a theme for the prayers you will use) and a really great section on conducting a group session with the Anglican rosary. There are also lots of prayers and space to write your own.

Here’s a prayer from the booklet I particularly like:

“A Night Prayer”

On the Cross

Our help is in the name of the Lord; who made heaven and earth

On the Invitatory Bead

The Lord almighty grant us a quiet night and a perfect end

On the Cruciform Beads

Holy God, Holy and strong, Holy and immortal; have mercy on us.

On the Weeks Beads

Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

On the Invitatory Bead (at the conclusion of 3 rounds)

Now Lord let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled.

My own eyes have seen the salvation; which you have prepared in the sight of every people.

A light to reveal you to the nations; and the glory of your people Israel.

On the Cross

Let us bless the Lord, thanks be to God.

So, I hope you all visit Brother Nathan’s new blog – http://www.anglicanrosary.wordpress.com. In a note he enclosed with my beautiful gift, he asks if any of you have an anecdote to share about your use of the Anglican rosary, please consider sharing them on a special page on his blog. I am going to add his blog to my blogroll, so you should be able to just click on it and get there from here.

Please drop into Brother Nathan-James’s blog and tell him what you think! THANK YOU, Brother Nathan-James!

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One of the things I love about having a blog is the great people you meet online that you would never have a chance to because of geography. This week, I got this great comment on my blog from Tara L., a soon-to-be-30 family nurse practitioner from Nashville, Tenn. who had heard my interview on CraftSanity and bought a copy of the book. Here is some of what she wrote me:

“I can’t begin to express how appreciative I am to you for your wonderful book and for the way it has so deeply inspired me. After I listened to the interview, I was so moved by your honesty about your faith and by your warm personality. It wasn’t long before I had your book in my hands, and it literally hasn’t left my immediate grasp ever since. By the second day of owning it, I’d already made my first set of prayer beads (from plastic beads obtained from a local Wal-Mart during my lunch break from work). Today I made my second set with some glass beads from my bead stash, and I’m already making plans for other sets. I love praying with them, and their very presence in my environment makes me feel closer to God while they serve as a reminder that He is always only a whisper away.

I would love to share pictures of my prayer beads with you. If you will email me, I’ll be happy to send you some. Thank you again for your book and for introducing me to prayer beads!”

Well, I couldn’t let that invitation go by, and soon Tara and I were off on an email correspondence, complete with pictures, and I want to share what she said with you. You must read the part about why she brings the prayer beads to her lips when she prays! It sent a shiver down my spine! I have to try this. Wow.

Here is some of what Tara wrote to me about her life, her faith background and how and why she prays with beads. And take a look at her beautiful prayer bead creations! She also wrote to tell me that she just noticed that she was so eager to have a set of prayer beads that she made her first set – this set of purple beads – with only six, not seven, weeks beads in two sections. I told her to leave it be – it would remind her of how hungry she was for prayer every time she uses them.

Here’s Tara . . . . .

“I feel a little like I’ve lived one of those lives in which no answer is straightforward.  I’m in a rather dark period of my life right now; the kind in which it seems that there is discontent in almost every aspect of my existence.  I think this may be a big part of why prayer has become so crucial to me presently.  It’s my coping mechanism and my connection to God, who I have hopes will pull me out of this soon.

“Right now I’m living just north of Nashville, Tennessee, and I’m working as a Family Nurse Practitioner in a walk-in sort of clinic.  My background is in women’s health though.  I worked as a labor and delivery nurse for 4 years before I returned to school in 2005 to get my Masters in Nurse-Midwifery. However, I found myself having significant difficulty finding the right midwifery job after graduation, so I took my current job to pay the bills.  I’m left feeling very lost and unsatisfied because I so miss my women.  In fact, my scope of care in this setting is exclusive of women’s health.  I’m not sure what God’s plan is for me right now, but I’m trying very, very hard to hold on to the knowledge that there is something wonderful for me just around the corner. 

“I’ll be turning 30 at the end of this month, and I’ll admit that I’m having a bit of a personal crisis about it.  I remember being a very young adult and saying more than once that I wanted to be done having babies by the time I was 30.  Because of life’s unexpected twists and turns, I’ve not yet even started having babies.  The one thing I’d give up just about anything for is to be a mother.  It is a debilitating hole in my heart, this need I have for my own children.

“I was raised in a nondenominational church with my father as the pastor.  We worshipped among folks from many different faith backgrounds, so I was very accustomed to things like applause offerings, speaking in tongues, and worship services that could go any direction at any time, depending on how the Spirit moved among the congregation.  As a child and young adolescent I had a firm grasp on who I thought God was and what He was about.  All of that changed when I was 12 when my father resigned from the church he and my family had built and my parents divorced. My mother and I moved out of state, and we began to attend a very traditional Southern Baptist church. By the time I was in college and too old for the youth group, my interest in attending the church really faded away.

“Years later when I was out of school and working, I found a Presbyterian church near my home. It was a very accepting, spiritually-charged evangelical sort of church.  It was rare that I didn’t find myself sitting in my seat with tears streaming down my face while in that church.  I left it only because I moved away to attend graduate school.  School left me without the time to attend church, and unfortunately, I’ve not found myself back yet.  I do miss it, and I hope to get back into a church soon.  Because of my background, I don’t feel that I need to find a specific denomination to feel at home, so I’ll just have to find the right fit for me.

“I’ve never used any form of prayer beads before, but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t wish I could have something to be a daily reminder for me to take some time to talk to my heavenly Father, to spend some quality time with Him.  I’ve long admired the Catholic faith for its ritual and its many signs of devotion, and I’ve thought in the past that I might feel at home in an Episcopalian congregation.  Prayer beads have been just the answer I was looking for when I wanted something ritualistic and tangible to feel connected to God.  Thank you again for introducing me to them!

“I’ve only been using my prayer beads for about a week now, and I feel like I’m still exploring how to use them in my personal spiritual journey.  I have found that I don’t want to leave them behind when I leave home, so for right now, they go where I go.  I’m comforted to know they are within arm’s reach of me at any time.  While I knew intellectually before that God was always that close to me, the beads are a physical reminder that He really is only an intention away.  I love the chapter in your book about praying with attention and intention.  It is absolutely the difference between reciting prayers and actually praying.

“I feel like I’m still discovering what my favorite prayers are.  I already see that I feel more drawn to prayers that actually address God rather than those that talk about God.  I also find myself bringing my beads to my lips without conscious thought and whispering onto each bead I’m praying on, almost like it’s a microphone directly to the Lord.  I love the Psalm prayer on pages 54-55 [of Bead One, Pray Too], and I’m working on compiling a list of my favorite scriptures as well.  Here are a couple of them:

Philippians 4:6-7
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests by made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Psalm 91:11-16
For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.  In their hands, they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample under foot. Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.  He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.”

“I have a little pocket book that I’m finding particularly helpful.  It’s called “The Bible Promise Book” and has scriptures (KJV) organized by subjects like courage, prayer, worry, fear, forgiveness, joy, honesty, etc.  I also have a teeny Bible given to me by a representative from the Gideons one day when I was walking to class in graduate school that has an index of sorts in the front.  The index has “Where to find help when…” at the top of the pages and subjects with scriptures listed beneath (things like “afraid,” “sorrowful,” “tempted,” and “weary.”).

“Last night I was praying with my beads, and I found myself just praying spontaneously.  Over the weeks beads, I prayed for 7 different things for each of the 3 members of my family and for myself.  It felt good to organize my requests before God and to have time for each of the members of my family so that I could focus on really bringing them before the Lord in prayer.  This was an unexpected way for me to use the beads, but it just felt right.

“Kimberly, thank you again for your book and for all that prayer beads have brought to my life.  I’m excited to continue to grow with them and to see the new ways that they will enhance my own spiritual journey.”

Pretty great, huh? What do you all think? I am happy to hear from anyone who would like to share their beads and prayers.

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As I wrote in an earlier post, a couple of weeks ago I attended the national conference of the Prayer Quilt Ministry in Dallas, Texas. The two-day meeting had talks, field trips and break-out sessions. One of those sessions was on making prayer bead bracelets and was conducted by a beautiful young woman named Allison, owner of Beading Dreams bead store in Dallas.

Allison brought with her perhaps a dozen baskets in which she had placed scores and scores of small, pastel-hued organza bags, each of which contained the components of a prayer bracelet – beads, charms, flexible wire, a clasp and a couple of crimp beads. In two separate sessions, she demonstrated how to string beads, measure the resulting strand to one’s wrist and close it off with a crimp bead. The bags were organized by the color of beads they contained and Allison very helpfully described the spiritual and healing properties of each color on the label of each bag . . . .

As a thank you for helping her set up and tear down (and also cause she’s just a doll!) Allison gave me one of the kits and I brought it back to California with me. When I opened it, I found inside a half-dozen small silver-colored charms – a couple of crosses, one that said “Faith” and one that said “Love” and, I was excited to see, one of a woman sitting cross-legged in meditation. There was also a full handful of purple and blue glass beads. Best of all was that Allison included a strand of Softflex that came with a lobster claw clasp already attached at one end with a crimp bead! She had done half my work for me, enabling me to immediately begin stringing beads without having to first get out my tools and attach the clasp! And imagine my joy when I discovered that all the charms came with split rings already attached. No getting out that awful tool that is supposed to open split rings, but ends up breaking my nails instead. A crimp bead, a jump ring and a small card printed with instructions for assembling the bracelet completed the kit.

I got right to work (or play!) with the beads. I happen to be a person who likes order and routine – probably one of the main reasons prayer beads, with their regularity and rhythm, appeal to me in the first place. So I automatically began stringing them in a pattern: one round bead, one long bead, one round bead, one charm, repeat. I was done in seconds. SECONDS.

Three beads, one charm. I love the symbolism inherent in this pattern of 3 and 1. In Christianity, I see the Trinity and the one God. In Buddhism, it can mean the Triple Gem and the oneness of all things. In Wicca and other forms of Neo-Paganism, I see the three stages of a woman’s life – the maiden, mother and crone and the Goddess. In the New Age framework, I see the body, mind and spirit and the one being. I know there are many more.

How to use this prayer bracelet? Because of the pattern of beads I used, I can take the bracelet off my wrist, hold it in my right hand, and say three repetitions of one prayer on the beads and one repetition of a second prayer on the charm – and repeat all the way around until I hit the clasp. I can say three Hail Mary prayers on the beads and The Lord’s Prayer on the charm, or I can say one of the prayers of Julian of Norwich – “And all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well,” combined with the Jesus Prayer. I can pray anything on this prayer bracelet. That’s the beauty of it.

There’s a link to Beading Dreams at the top of the page. Allison has a lot of these prayer bracelet kits and I am sure she would love to send them out to readers of this blog. Giver her a call or drop her and email and tell her you saw her prayer bracelets on my blog. Happy Beading!

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