Session #4 of Creative Prayer..Praying with the Body and Making Crosses
These ideas are taken from the book,
Making Crosses—A creative Connection to God, by Ellen Morris Prewitt.
Active Prayer —Praying with your body
Praying With the Body-Bringing the Psalms to Life by Roy DeLeon Roy is an Oblate of St. Benedict and a spiritual director. He teaches classes in “Blessed Movements”, praying with body, heart and soul, and conducts workshops at monasteries and retreat centers. He lives in Washington state.
Active prayer with the Psalms
Opening Alleluia praise prayer to begin anything.
This is also a way to get Scripture out of our heads and into the air and into our bodies.
When we begin, we are reminded why we are praying, our intention is union with God, wherever we are, it is Holy ground and we need to be attentive and watchful for the inner movement of the triune God with us.
The prayers are written in sections, with a Lectio Divine format, a slow, contemplative praying of the Scriptures which enables the Bible, the Word of God, to become a means of unit with God. It begins with slow readings of the Scripture, attentively listening with the ears of your heart, and notice any phrase or words that stick out to you. At this point, as you repeat the phrase, you let your imagination connect it to an image, a movement or creative expression, perhaps this is where the arts come in. The last stage is to sit still, at rest, and listen to what the still small voice within you is saying to you. There are different models of this, but that is the basic format offsetting with a small portion of Scripture and meditating on it.
Praying with movement
Sitting with God [or the Divine]
This is from Psalm 95. Try reading this yourself, and adding gestures or body movements
The next part of physical praying, or praying with your hands and making something will be exploring the book Making Crosses,—A creative connection to God, by Ellen Prewitt
The first part of this is a walk in nature, or around the house, noticing the things that grab you attention, collecting them, and physically putting them together, in a slow prayerful way, that speaks to you as you are going through the process. It is a physical listening to God, to what He might be saying to you. He is always speaking, so this is an intentional way of hearing and a practice of listening. You could actually make anything, the cross is just a structure or beginning and example of making something with intention. The whole experience becomes the prayer. Each decision, of what to add, each struggle of the actual construction, becomes the prayer experience. Even when you are finished and you sit with it reflecting on it, it becomes a listening prayer of hearing anything else that God might say to you.
Step 1. Find two sticks
Find your crossbeams, every you do in cross making is a revelation from God. So, at first it might not make sense, but you might feel yourself being led to do something a certain way and know not why. That is good and this is good practice of following and trust. Slow down, ask God, then notice. The type and shape of your crossbeams will set the mood for the rest of your cross.
Step 2. Holding It Together
Choices abound, wire, string, twine, vine, it mirrors the hard choices we face in life. When we are faced with hard choices, do we choose the things of this world, or to we turn to God? Also, anything new, like this can be frustrating. When we bump up against your idealized version of the cross, and what it might be turning out, do we give up, and go on to something else, or do we stick with it and see if there is something here that God might be saying. Go slowly, if you are feeling frustrated, relax. Talk with God as you go. You are experiencing a new kind of prayer. Take your time and sit with it awhile.
Step 3. Collecting for your cross
To make a cross, we must slow down. In the ordinary world, we snatch and toss. In the cross world, we stop and examine. As we collect objects to adorn our crosses we paused we observe. We set aside the materialistic values of the world and let the Holy Spirit open our eyes to a different way of seeing the things of creation. Consider the things you come across, could this be cross material? This is training us to Look for God everywhere in the world, and that we have everything we need right in front of us. We just need to look and value the things that the world discards. Simplicity. God will provide. Don’t try to analyze the object and how you will use, just notice if you are drawn to it. Your world will transform into a clearer image of a creation where everything, everywhere belongs. to God.
So, go on a walk, inside and outside and pick up the things that you notice.
Lay out the items that you brought
The items that you collect will fall into one of these four categories; 1.Reusing 2. Reclaiming 3. Refocusing 4l Remembering
Spend time, physically, picking up each item, meditate on it, and let God tell you about it. This is praying with your hands. Working on this cross, enables God to work on you by insights and inspiration you would have been too busy with something else to notice.
Step 4. Adornment
This is what pulls your cross together. Before adornment, you have a potential cross. After adornment, you have your story of God told in broken and found objects. As the Holy Spirit whispers to you, you need to follow. Sometimes you might feel you are going into a very strange place, and it makes no sense. So loosen up, let your mind wander and relax. Your collected objects, the movement of your crossbeams, the prayer thoughts that God floats to your brain—they will all come together to create a cross of profound spirituality. Let it happen as God wills. It is not the purpose to create a beautiful cross. Most of the time they are beautiful, but it is a product that is meant to lead you to a place you are supposed to be. The purpose is to focus on God. Don’t let your cross disappear. You can clutter up your cross with too much and all of a sudden it disappears, The meaning gets lost and overwhelming just like some of our days or our churches full of programs. God works differently than we do. Keep you ear attuned to God, and make the adjustments in your adornment, so that your cross doesn’t disappear.
Step. 5. Sit with your cross. Write down any insights either about the process or about the product.
Step 6. The Story Told by Your Cross
Your cross will tell your story of God. It is very personal. It will give you another bit of understanding in some way, either about yourself, or about God and it will delight you, heal you, and/or surprise you, but you will always be delighted that He spoke to you. Tell about the objects your chose, the symbolism, the meaning, double meaning, explanation. Can you give your cross a title. Write it down Share it with someone.