Some of my best ideas come during our community dinners, from the sisters around the table with me. As we break bread, slurp soup, or bite into a juicy morsel, we often share the stuff of our lives. These daily happenings, glimpses of God, joys and challenges often spark conversation and ideas flow. Last evening, as I discussed my ideas for writing a blog, one of the sisters asked if I had thought about reflecting on how we can use our body in prayer. This sister shared how she often prays using St. Dominic’s Nine Ways of Prayer or other physical postures or movement to get in touch with God’s presence within and around her. As she shared, I recalled how such body prayer practiced by myself and others helped me when I was discerning my call to religious life and has continued to help me connect with God and Spirit in my daily prayer. Here are a few of those experiences.
Over twenty years ago, I met a sister who danced her prayer. I had never seen liturgical dance before, and I will never forget watching Sr. Jean Kinney stand and then reverently dance up the aisle with the gifts of bread and wine. I was mesmerized at the sight of her tall, lean frame and expressive hands as she presented the gifts to the priest and then served at the altar. At the same time, I felt God calling me to bring my gift, my life to the table as an offering. I never left my seat. It was as if Jean did the dancing, and my heart did the offering.
On a hill in Mexico City, Sr. Ana and I reveled in the beauty of the country stretching out around us. We were standing in an area long revered as holy by the native peoples. At the top of the hill, we took off our shoes and stood on the warm earth. We thought of God who created it all and the thousands of people who had walked this ground. With arms outstretched in prayer, we felt God’s presence in the warmth of the sun on our faces and in the breeze that surrounded us. We brought that experience back to our sisters who had stayed behind at the school. When we shared how we stood and prayed, it felt as if we were once again on that little hill united with God.
As you seek the face of God and God’s direction in life, I invite you to try some of these different prayer postures. It can be as simple as sitting quietly with your hands open on your lap or allowing your rosary beads to slip between your fingers. For me, these body prayers help me become more aware of the presence of God with me, leading me and guiding me in my discernment. In whatever way you pray, may you feel the gentle touch of God and know that you are loved.