Sister Doreen’s Reflections
Knitting or Crocheting or Needle Work
“I struggled for years to maintain a regular private prayer practice. I found it difficult to sit still each day in the presence of God. It was so much harder than participating in public worship where there was singing, readings, and preaching. I found the order and content of the liturgy engaging, and there was a palpable sense of God’s presence within the community of worshippers. Whenever I sat down by myself to pray the psalms or to say some intercessory prayers or to just sit in silence, my mind would start to race. I preferred reading books about praying rather than actually praying.” From her book “Contemplative Knitting” by Julie Cicora.
There are times when what is needed in our prayer practices is to be doing something with our hands while praying. We have considered prayer beads, and I think that both quiet contemplative knitting, needle work or crocheting can offer us the same gifts by engaging our bodies and focusing our thoughts.
Just some thoughts about using knitting/crocheting/needle work to help in building a consistent practice that will help to deepen our relationship with God. One of the powerful gifts that they offer is the spirituality of repetition. Much like the use of beads, repetitive action also allows us to quiet our mind, center ourselves and helps to keep us focused. Repetition is a powerful tool. Over and over again, we call out reminding ourselves of God’s ever presence. One of the most powerful repetitious prayers is the Jesus prayer. It requires attention, putting ourselves in the present moment, and intention, doing this for the love of God. Doing something with our hands, engaging our bodies, in our prayer times – this helps us to be fully present to ourselves. It can become a reflective way to discover more about ourselves and our relationship with God, and can open the door to a daily examen practice which is an important part of our spiritual journey. It also helps, quietens and centers us to be more fully present to others.
What contemplative knitting / crocheting / needle work or any other means of prayer is meant to do is to help you develop a love relationship with God, which will in turn affect your relationships with everyone else. It is putting yourself in the hands of God.
In one of his books Morton Kelsey used a Chinese proverb as a quote:
“Hearing, I forget.
Seeing, I remember.
Writing, I understand.”
Spiritual journaling is a way of keeping a written prayer diary of thoughts, feelings, struggles, questions, and experience of the presence of God, as well as reflections about meaning, purpose, and our own spiritual journey. As the Chinese proverb says …. Writing I understand … then journaling can be used to explore what you think and feel, and as a means of growth: it’s a way of being yourself and a safe way to be yourself. It may be a way to sort out some of life’s difficulties and problems. Writing things down often can help gain insights and can be a way of prioritizing issues. Writing can be a way of praying, of relating to God at the same time as allowing God to speak through the writing. As we struggle with unanswered questions, try to process loss and grief, exam vocational directions or crossroads in our life, or come to terms with mortality – regular times for prayer, for meditation and for journaling can be a deep way of knowing God, of feeling God’s love and also experience real love and intimacy with others around you. Spiritual journaling can be a vehicle by which we can gain insight into our inner world and connect our spiritual life to other aspects of human experience.
Morton Kelsey made the following comment in one of his books when reflecting on journaling and the Parable of the Prodigal Son: “A journal is an instrument by which both prodigals and elder brothers can turn inward, reflect and come home.”
A prayer journal is a place to record your conversations with God. You can write down the things that are on your heart and mind, and keep track of God’s answers and blessings. It’s something that you can look back on when times get hard and you need a reminder of God’s faithfulness. It’s something that you can use to reflect on your spiritual growth over the years. Your prayer journal can be used in any way you want because it’s personal to you and your relationship with God.
What journalling or any other means of prayer is meant to do is to help you develop a love relationship with God, which will in turn affect your relationships with everyone else. It is putting yourself in the hands of God.
Having shared some of the ways of prayer, I do need to add that there are probably as many ways of prayer as there are different kinds of experiences in life! I can think of Prayer walks, the Labyrinth, Praying the Psalms, Prays of Lament, Stations of the Cross, Personalizing scripture, colouring and creating mandalas … and you can probably add your own list from your own experiences. For each of us, there is an open opportunity to place ourselves in the hands of God in a number of ways. They are meant to help us be in that quiet place, aware of God’s ever presence, to move us into that gift of contemplative presence, into the hands and gaze of God.
May each of us find ourselves open to the way that invites us best to journey into prayer and into the heart of God.