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Archive for the ‘Prayers For Beads’ Category

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.”

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Today marks the 64th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, three days after the same anniversary (Aug. 6) of the bombing of Hiroshima. The bombings, the first deployment of nuclear weapons, killed more than 200,000 people – men, women and children. For more information about the religious community’s commemoration of this sad day and resources on how to observe it, go to the website of the National Religious Partnership on the Nuclear Weapons Danger.

So, in today’s category of something to pray for, I suggest we remember the victims of those bombings and all other bombings, right up to present-day terror attacks and war strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan. I found a prayer on the website of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program titled “A Prayer for Those Attacked by Bombs and Rockets.” I suggest we try it this week – in some form – on our prayer beads. Perhaps say the whole prayer on the first “Our Father” bead, if you are using a Catholic rosary, or the “invitatory bead” if you are using an Anglican one. If you use another form – mala, subha or something else – adapt it as you see fit. The prayer goes like this:

Eternal God,
On this day we pause to remember
The devastating power we have crafted from your creation.
We remember people attacked by bomb blast or rocket attack
In Folkestone and Guernica,
In Warsaw and Rotterdam,
In London and Coventry,
In Pearl Harbor and Wake Island,
In Hamburg and Dresden,
In Pyongyang and Hanoi,
In Baghdad and Tel Aviv,
In Oklahoma City and Bali,
In Belfast and Madrid,
In Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
In places whose names have been lost,
Whose people we have forgotten.
Hold those who have died in your love.
Strengthen those who still struggle with wounds.
Comfort family members who grieve.
Pour your Holy Spirit anew upon the human family
That the day might come when
Bombs and rockets and all weapons of war
May be beaten into implements of healing and wholeness.
Through Jesus Christ we pray.
Amen.

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Metta Prayers

In response to one of my last posts, a reader named Jan Lundy sent the following nice comment:

“I so appreciate this post and the heart and candor you put into your writing. I also appreciate the prayer you’ve shared by Rabbi Rami. Yes, may we pray for all those who are suffer through the loss of a loved one. For all those who suffer. Whatever beads we use, prayer forms we use (I do metta), may our hearts be inclined toward the One within the all. May you be blessed…”

I had never heard of “metta” – at least not by that name. So I emailed Jan back and asked for an explanation and how it might be prayer bead friendly. I got such a great and informative response, I asked Jan’s permission to share with you. Here is some of what she said:

“Metta is a form of loving-kindness prayer/meditation rooted in the Buddhist tradition. It is very powerful and transformative. Because so many of the beloved Buddhist teachers today use and teach metta in an inter-spiritual way, the practice is finding its way into many hearts.”

The she provided this link for a description of metta. Then she continues:

“I wrote about my ‘discovery’ of this prayer practice in my book, Your Truest Self. If you are open to those of other traditions, you may find it quite lovely. It would work well with prayer beads…

“As for myself, I was raised in the Christian tradition, but today consider myself a truly inter-spiritual person with definite Eastern leanings. I am an Interfaith Spiritual Director trained through the Dominican Center in Grand Rapids, MI,  a blessedly, open and hospitable learning environment. I often teach “metta” in my classes there and even offer it on retreats for Christian women—if they are open to it.”

Jan included her website, her blog, and sent me this wonderful excerpt of the book:

Exerpt from Your Truest Self

©2008, Janice Lynne Lundy

On metta…..

As I am learning from Mari, openheartedness to others can only happen in proportion to how openhearted we are to ourselves. She speaks to me of gentleness, kindness, self-compassion. There is a pattern here, a strong and sturdy thread of truth that weaves through all our languaging and traditions. No matter whether we call ourselves Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Sufi —or “nothing in particular, and at the same time everything,”as Mari does—it is all the same. Our journey into thesacred begins with our relationship with ourselves and ripples out from there. What other practices can we do to keep our hearts open to others? None, until our own hearts are open to what lies within them.

Metta, from the Buddhist tradition, is one such practice for the purpose of cultivating lovingkindness for ourselves and others. We begin by directing metta—lovingkindness—to ourselves first. Sitting quietly, we can mentally repeat, slowly and steadily, the following or similar phrases: “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.”1

Lovingkindness meditation consists primarily of connecting to the intention of wishing ourselves and others happiness. After a period of directing lovingkindness toward ourselves, we then bring to mind a dear one, someone in our life for whom we care deeply. We slowly repeat phrases of lovingkindness toward them:

“May you be happy.

May you be well.

May you be safe.

May you be peaceful and at ease.”

In time, we will find ourselves able to send our lovingkindness to others— friends, neutral others, difficult others, even enemies.

Finally, we direct lovingkindness to every single human being on earth. Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg tells us that this practice proceeds in a very structured way. Through repetition, with time and grace, “We open up our limits and extend our capacity for benevolence,” she says. “Through the power of this practice, we cultivate an equality of loving feeling toward ourselves and all beings.”2

I love this idea – that we have to direct the loving-kindness (the prayer) to ourselves before we can send it to another and then out to the whole world. I am going to try these prayers (“May I/you be happy,” etc) with my prayer beads. Give it a try and let me and Jan know what you think.

Thank you, Jan, for this wonderful exercise!

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Spring is definitely here in Northern California. In my yard, the wisteria is swaying in the breeze, my lilacs are scenting the air, the California poppies are bobbing their orange heads and the yellow rose bush is just about ready to give me a couple of vasefuls of buds. For the first time since Bella died I am feeling the joy in life again.

To honor the return of this blessing to me, I want to use Holy Week for prayers of thanksgiving. The things I am grateful for are things I think we can all be grateful for – the fact that the sun is warm, that flowers are here or are coming, that we are here to experience these simple gifts.

And that puts me in mind of the beautiful, old Shaker hymn, “Simple Gifts.” This is the part that really resonates with me today:

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

It will be in the valley of love and delight.

“The valley of love and delight.” What a beautiful place that sounds like. If the last month of depression and grief and sadness has taught me anything it is that it is up to me to create my own valley of love and delight – if I choose to do so. Today, I say I choose to do so.

So here are my prayers of thanksgiving for the valley of love and delight I choose to see around me. I am saying them on the Pearls of Life, also called the Wreath of Christ. If you have my book, I write about this form of Lutheran prayer beads on pages 39-41. I have blogged about my own set here, with pictures and instructions for making one. As they have no set prayers, you are free to write or compile your own. Mine are below, inspired by this week of renewal. Feel free to use them, change them to suit your own faith or needs.

On the God Pearl

Thanks be to you, O God, for all the blessings you have given me.

On the (first) Pearl of Silence

For the gift of the earth and all it contains, I thank you.

On the Baptism Pearl

I shall love the Lord with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my strength and with all my mind.

— adapted from Luke 10:27

On the (second) Pearl of Silence

For the gift of my family and all the love they provide, I thank you.

On the Night Pearl

Holy spirit, expressing the world,

Help me to awake this day and realize

That God is in this place. —adapted from Genesis 28:16

On the Mystery Pearls (three)

1 – God with me lying down

2 – God with me rising up

3 – God with me in each ray of light —from the Carmina Gadelica

On the Love Pearls (two)

1 – I bless you Lord, for the beauty of the trees, the softness of the air, the fragrance of the grass

2 – I bless you Lord, for the taste of good food, the trail of the sun, and the life that never goes away.

Chief Dan George

On the (third) Pearl of Silence

For the blessing of my friends and all the support they offer me, I thank you

On the Serenity Pearl

For this is to live the life eternal: To experience our indivisible relationship with God

John, 17:3

On the (fourth) Pearl of Silence

For the gift of my abilities and all the comfort they bring me, I thank you

On the Desert Pearl

The wind is your messenger, the clouds are your chariots.

All creatures exist in you. What endless variety you are. — Psalm 104

On the (fifth) Pearl of Silence

For the love of my pets and animal friends and all the solace they bring me, I thank you.

On the Resurrection Pearl

Praise the everlasting and the holy.

Take joy in the miracle of creation,

For we live in the mystery of the unbounded.

In this marvelous world, we are alive. —- Psalm 135

On the I Pearl

Blessed are those who are aware that they dwell in you,

For they fill their days with peace. —-Psalm 84

On the (sixth) Pearl of Silence

For all the glory of your creation and all the beauty it brings me, I thank you.

On the return to the God Pearl

Thanks be to you, O God, for giving me the gift of life and all its bounties.

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anglican-rosary-cluster-11First, let me say how touched I am by the flood of emails I’ve been receiving from readers and other friends and family who read my post about Bella. Many of them have contained the most lovely pet prayers – some which had me in quite a puddle of tears – that I will share here in a blog post within a day or so. I am a little raw today and don’t want to go to the Bella place right now. But I thank you all so much.

In a previous post, I promised to let you know when two sets of  prayer bead prayers I compiled for Beliefnet.com were “live.” They went up today and I hope you will check them out.

The first set is on the subjects of patience, strength and endurance. I compiled them for an Anglican rosary because that is what Beliefnet requested, but they could be adapted for the Catholic rosary by repeating a few prayers of your choice.

The second set is on the subject of light. They are also for the Anglican rosary and are adaptable.

Soon I will have a “how-to” gallery on Beliefnet that will offer directions for making a simple Anglican rosary. I hope we are able to bring a lot more people into this ancient contemplative practice which is bringing me a good measure of comfort at this time.

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p1130737As I wrote in a previous post, we were anticipating having to put our dear dog, Bella, down this week. We did it this morning, under a grey and raining California sky.

Bella found us almost 11 years ago, only a few months after my husband and I got married. I had gone to our local shopping center for my morning bagel and there she was, darting between cars in the parking lot. I suppose someone had dumped her there. A friend managed to get her onto the sidewalk and I said I would take her in my van to the animal shelter. I reached down to pet her and found myself looking into her very frightened brown eyes. There was kind of this instant connection between us, as of she were saying to me, “Where were you? I need you.” I just knew in that one instant that she was a very special animal and that we needed to be together.

007_4a3It turned out to be the luckiest day of both our lives. When no one claimed her at the shelter, she became our second dog. It took her some time to come to terms with our first dog, Shadow, but once she did, she settled right in. Many animals pick a person to be “theirs,” and I was very definitely hers. For 11 years, she has followed me from room to room, from inside the house to outside, and just about anywhere else I would let her go. When I would take a bath, she would walk right in, stick her nose over the side of the tub to check I was still there, then give me a lick or two and click-click back out into the bedroom to wait for me to come to my senses and get out of the water. She also routinely followed me into the closet, sure that there might be some secret escape route, I guess.

Bella gave us some good times. Once, she ate our couch. We needed a new couch anyway, and she was just trying to help. Once, while we were out to dinner, she slipped out of the backyard and disappeared. Two very frantic days I would not want to relive for anything followed – and then we found that she had been picked up by the dog catcher perhaps a whole 20 minutes after leaving the yard. Apparently, she walked right up to his truck and said, “Hi, Mr. Man, can I go for a ride with you?” After a weekend in dog jail, she was very happy to be home. Once, Terry and I took her on a hike along the Bolinas Ridge in Marin County that took us through a cow pasture. A young black bull – I would say at least 1,000 lbs, snorted at us from about 40 yards away and pawed the ground. I got really scared and started to panic, my voice rising. Bella took one look at that bull and gave two barks – “Woof, WOOF!!” and I’ll be damned if he didn’t turn on his hoof and run away! Bella was like that – she had no idea she was a dog and not a bull or a person.

On Sept. 11, 2001, she kept sticking her wet nose into my hand as I sat in front of the television with tears running down my face. When I had my miscarriages, each time I came home from the hospital, she was there, sticking her nose over the top of the bed to check I was there and okay – I think she could smell is I was okay. Then she’d kiss me. She always knew when I was upset and a cold, wet nose and a lick or two were her favored remedy.

bella

Since 1998, everything I have written has been done with Bella lying on my foot or close enough to touch me. She was there when I finished my first book, my second and my third. I have written this whole blog with her nearby. I couldn’t even begin to count the stories I have written that she has been part of, snoozing by the computer as I interviewed people and typed away.

Things Bella loved – sharing a Popsicle with mama, a lick for me, a lick for her. Scrambled eggs, pancakes, purple grapes, bananas, peanut butter,people who came to the house to see her, a scratch behind the ears, going away for a weekend with mom and dad, chasing squirrels, putting her head on daddy’s shorts, helping tear the wrapping paper off packages. Things she did not love – a camera flash, a flickering candle, going outside in the rain, other dogs. Cats were not high on her list, either.

hill-bellaThe trip to the vet was uneventful. We loaded her into the back of the van on her bed and wrapped in her blanket. I rode the quarter mile in the back with her. At the vet, they took us right in. We place her bed on the examining table, laid her on the bed and held her as they gave her the shot. She just drifted of to sleep in a matter of minutes. The doctor – a wonderfully gifted vet who has cared for her all her life and helped our other animals make the transition – said we should not feel guilty about the decision because her quality of life had declined. He listened to her heart, which beat longer than he expected, I think, and said she was stubborn. That she was. We liked to joke that she had no reverse. She was always moving forward.

In preparing for the moment she would leave us, I asked if people would send me some prayers for their animals. You all sent some great prayers, which you can see in the comments of my last post (see link above). But when the moment came, every thought left my head. I just sat there, staring at her face, repeating “God be with you, God keep you” into her ear over and over again. That didn’t seem enough, so I finally said the 23rd Psalm. I trust in its promise – the Lord is now her shepherd and I know she shall not want. I know she is in a beautiful place where there are lots of squirrels and the purple grapes hang at snout level. I know she will eat her fill and run and play like she has not been able to do for more than a year.

So she is gone. We cried, very hard, as we held on to her and each other. My husband and I both commented that once she was gone her body relaxed more completely than we had seen her relax in months. Then we came home to a very quiet house. After a couple of hours of sort of just sitting here in silence, I reached for Women’s Uncommon Prayers on my bookshelf. Here is a prayer I found for Bella written by Madelyn A. Stella, which I will say tonight on my Anglican rosary:

O God, our maker , we pray for all the pets of the world that they may have good homes.

Grant that all pet owners may provide living care for your creatures.

We (I) pray for all who serve our pets, that they recognize our pets as truly members of our family.

Grant us (me) the wisdom to recognize the blessing of having had Bella with is in our family.

May Bella’s friends and family receive comfort and peace from the knowledge of your eternal love and grace.

We (I) praise you for the pets of the saints, who have gone before: for Dame Julian’s cat, for the dolphins who led St Brendan safely to land, for the wolf tamed by St Brigid, for all the animals who loved St. Francis and for all animals everywhere.

Dear God, I give thanks to you for the life of Bella and the love and companionship we shared. We (I) will miss her, but in the midst of our (my) sorrow we (I) recognize the blessings she brought to us. Just as you are aware of every sparrow that falls, be with Bella at this time. Amen. 012_9a4

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A couple of days ago, I heard from a new reader of the blog, a woman named Fran who lives in North Carolina and is a member of the Baha’i faith. She came across one of my previous entries on Baha’i prayer beads and sent me a lovely comment, which I posted. In it, she mentioned that though she does not use prayer beads, she does have some favorite Baha’i prayers that she relies on. I wrote to her and asked if she would share some of them that might be suitable for prayer beads of all types. I got a terrific reply:

“I will be happy to share any prayers with you. In my opinion, anyone can pray any of the hundreds of revealed Baha’i prayers whether they call themselves Baha’is or not. ‘Abdu’l Baha (the eldest son of Baha’u’llah, [whose] name means ‘Servant of the Glory’) once said (paraphrasing) that many people may call themselves Baha’is but do not “behave” accordingly while others may not consider themselves Baha’is but in fact, are because of their behavior.

Prayer beads are certainly not a requirement. I have some but seldom use them. It is usually when one desires to say a certain prayer many, many times, like say 95 or 100 in some cases, that they use the prayer beads. If I understand correctly, prayer beads that Baha’is use are not used like a rosary might be used. I was never Catholic so I may not have my facts straight about how people use rosaries.

One of my favorite prayers is for tests and difficulties. It is a prayer revealed by the Bab (which in Persian means “The Gate”). It is short yet very sweet.

“Is there any Remover of difficulties save God, say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants and all abide by His bidding.” –The Bab

The more times a prayer is said, the more powerful it is, we are told.

Another prayer I say often is the short healing prayer:

“Thy name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance of Thee is my remedy. Nearness to Thee is my hope, and love for Thee is my companion. Thy mercy to me is my healing and my succor in both this world and the world to come. Thou, verily, art the All-Bountiful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.” Baha’u’llah

There are two prayers revealed for children but many adults use these, too, because they are easy to memorize and can benefit one regardless of age.

“He is God! O God, my God! Bestow upon me a pure heart, like unto a pearl.”
–‘Abdu’l-Baha

O God, guide me, protect me, make of me a shining lamp and a brilliant star. Thou art the Mighty and the Powerful.”
–‘Abdu’l-Baha

I hope this is helpful. ”

I thought it was very helpful! Fran also recommended a couple of Baha’i prayer books. I especially loved what she says about it is one’s behavior that makes one a Baha’i or not – and not whether one adopts the label. I think this could – and should – be said of people of any and all faiths: that we shall know them by their deeds, and not by what they call themselves.

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