Ash Wednesday was three weeks ago. That makes us about mid-way through Lent. I’ve undertaken a number of Lenten practices during these past days. I’ve mostly stayed on track and been faithful daily to these.
I attended a workshop a few weeks ago: Finding God in Digital Spaces. It was enriching beyond my expectations. It’s a story for another blog post. I mention it now because one of the exercises we did was to select an image from a table-full of images, one that seemed to reflect where each of us was on that particular day in our Lenten journey.
This is the image I chose.
It represented my “collection” of Lenten practices I had undertaken this year. The trunk felt like I was grounded in my commitment and firm in my intention. The limbs and branches represented my variety of efforts to be centered in Lent.
I’m reading Richard Rohr’s Wonderous Encounters; Scripture for Lent. These are daily readings that provide wonderful nourishment – and incentive. His suggested “starter prayer” on Ash Wednesday was “God give me the desire to desire what you want me to desire”.
I’m also following the United Kingdom’s 40acts from Stewardship. Each day a challenge is offered within the context of a daily essay which leads one to watch for opportunities to respond to that day’s particular challenge of stewardship. I have to confess that while I was filled with inspiration and action at the beginning, at this point, not so much. I have, however, paid particular attention to those days when the challenge suggests ways to donate some of my treasure for causes. Honestly, that effort requires little cost to me beyond my means. I will say, though, I do enjoy the days when I’m directed to seek out others for prayer and conversation, others I might not normally seek out.
Further, I receive a number of daily emails with quotes, readings, paintings, that offer a quick inspirational fix for the moment- in some cases, for more of the day. I don’t mean to dismiss these so cavalierly, because at times they do feed my hungry soul.
Here are a couple of photo-quotes that touched me.
And, then there is my fasting. In this case, from my normal poor eating habits.
All this say that I have been hungry for something similar to my Lenten practice last year.
I was really inspired by the book Making Crosses, A Creative Connection to God, by Ellen Morris Prewitt. It was about making crosses using discarded or found materials to give them new life. It was to take something “the world didn’t value and make it into a work of God”. It was a wonderful new way for me to be in communion with God. It was also a way to invite others to join me for a period of time. On each of my travels last Lent I invited my family and friends to join with me in making crosses for a time. Here are my some of my 40 crosses.
This Lent I’ve missed the inspiration and communion I experienced while making crosses. So I went looking for just that. I ended up searching out Ellen Morris Prewitt online, and there I found just what I had been seeking.
Thumb prayers are handmade aids for prayer life. Or for sharing with others for whom you pray. Or with others who might find their own prayer life gets a boost by the presence of a thumb prayer in their pocket.
One is to rub a thumb prayer with just that, your thumb, when you need a reminder of the Spirit’s presence in the world. You make them using paper clay and various types of buttons. Pray over each as you create it.
Nestle the thumb prayer in your pocket. Or keep it on your desk. Or tuck it in the console of the car for traffic jams. Or zip it in your backpack as you begin a trek. Thumb prayers fit wherever you need to reach for a moment of God in your day.
Yesterday I created my first thumb prayer. I pinched off some paper clay and quietly sat and formed a pocket in the clay with my thumb. Then I added a button and gently formed the clay around the edge of the button, securing it within the pocket. All the while praying for one whom I have chosen to give this thumb prayer.
And a second.
I’m off for errands and appointments today. Already I’m thinking about the thumb prayer I shall create upon my return late this afternoon.