Wednesday, March 4, 2009

We Are The Carriers of Gifts

By Mikaila Gawryn
Outreach Associate

I begin facing North. In this time of Lent I hope to draw closer to God in a number of ways. The first is by practicing a Body Prayer in the mornings. Although a body prayer is not the traditional Lenten practice, I am looking forward to the opportunity to focus on my faith in a new way. I'd like to share two of my reflections on this practice so far.

I first learned this prayer at Holden Village when Earth Ministry staff and members gathered for a week of reflection and learning this past summer. Our Executive Director LeeAnne Beres and Outreach Associate Beth Anderson led a session called "Movement and Prayer" and introduced a number of ways to physically "speak" the prayers of our hearts. The prayer I enjoyed the most mixed words with movement, and included powerful images of engaging with the earth.

The prayer involves facing each of the four cardinal directions (North, South, East and West), and at each direction bending to the earth and in turn lifting my face to the sky. With each direction I speak the following words:

"Now I face the North, bending to gather up the wisdom
and the gifts of the earth,and [standing] offer them to the heavens. [After I let my arms fall to my side, I raise them again saying:] And now I open myself up to the heavens, and I gather all the gifts and the wisdom of the heavens and [stooping low to the ground] I offer them for the fruitfulness of the earth."

Repeating this process in each of the four directions reminds me that as a human being I am simply a carrier of gifts. I can perceive, although only in limited ways, great gifts of God, and I have the opportunity to carry and offer them for the fruitfulness of the earth. I also have the ability to learn from this creation, and can carry the wisdom I gain from it back to the Creator, offering it in praise.

This prayer also gives me the chance to practice receiving, and then letting go of the gifts I am given. It reminds me that holding onto a gift too tightly or for too long can make me depend upon that gift instead of God, the one who gives it. In a year where loss seems all around us I am thankful for the daily opportunity to practice holding gifts lightly and trusting in God's continued provision in a time of change.

As I continue to practice my body prayer throughout Lent I will share more reflections. Perhaps you pray in physical ways too, if so, feel free to share them with us here. If not perhaps Lent is a good time to learn more about engaging your faith physically. Blessings to you on this Lenten journey!


photos of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Company

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