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Rediscovery

An early version of the prayer wheel.
‚ÄúStand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jer. 6:16a

Prayer has frequently crept into a back corner for me. The ‘I’m too busy’s take over. I look, leap, fall. I fall hard and awkwardly. (Picture Jim Carrey falling off the jetway and landing with legs splayed. That’s me.)

But, recently, I came across a book, published in 2018, that I missed and never heard any press about. (Self-help books all-too-often clog the bestseller shelves and do anything, if rarely, help.) I’ll chalk this discovery of rediscovery to divine appointment.

It’s called The Prayer Wheel.

It originated in a 12th century monastery, only recently resurfaced in a small private library in 2015 (NYC), and is known as The Liesborn Prayer Wheel.

It features concentric circles, featuring:

  • Petitions from the Lord’s Prayer,
  • then, Gifts of the Holy Spirit,
  • followed by events in Christ’s life,
  • then, a Beatitude blessing,
  • and finally its corresponding Beatitude promise.

Each of these circles begin and end with ‘Praying the whole path.’ Much like the circular design, it’s meant to be endless and perfect in design. It’s outermost ring has the inscription The Order of the Diagram Written Here Teaches The Return Home. It feels very Middle-Earthian, and it taps into the creativity at which God permits people to visit Him.

I never knew this tool existed, and I’m so thankful the wheel was rediscovered near New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art!

The Prayer Wheel website does a much better job describing its formation, usage, and application. How people are returning to these monastic practices, such as: fixed-hour prayer (divine office), labyrinths (walking prayer), and lectio divina (meditative scripture reading). Their site even features a downloadable wheel you can use!

Worksheet screenshot – The Prayer Wheel

But I love the foreword by James Martin, SJ, who writes, there’s no ‘one’ right way to use the wheel, much like there’s no ‘one’ right way to pray.

And, I’m constantly feeling the necessity to return to the ancient paths mentioned in the verse above. It shows me the importance of contemplation in my own life. These are divine appointments each and every time.

New isn’t always better, and in this case, the origin story, is as important as anything else in our daily lives.

No. Not just important.

Essential.

I pray this tool helps you in your prayer life today!

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Undignified

2 Sam. 6:22 A – ” I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.”

Author Jim Forest’s account of meeting Thomas Merton for the first time is one of my all-time favorite stories about meeting your hero.

Think of yours.

Think of how you’d expect them to act.

Then scramble that notion, and you might gain a whole new respect.

In Forest’s account, he and another Catholic Worker member have traveled from New York to Merton’s Trappist monastery in Kentucky.

They are tired. They’ve traveled what feels like forever to get there.

And despite his dogged stated, Forest goes to the monastery’s chapel to pray. He begins, and his prayer is loudly interrupted.

By laughter.

An unusual sound for what he thought would be a reserved, somber place.

He writes:

The origin, I discovered was [my friend’s] room. As I opened the door the laughter was still going on, a kind of gale of joy. The major source was the red-faced man lying on the floor wearing [the Trappist habit], his knees in the air, hands clutching his belly…I realized instantly that the man on the floor laughing with such abandon must be Thomas Merton…And the inspiration for the laughter? It proved to be the intensely strong smell of feet that had been kept in shoes all the way from the Lower East Side to [the monastery] and were now out in the open air.

Merton was bent over double, laughing at the smell.

And that is why other novices (approximately 200) often couldn’t identify him when they first joined the monastery themselves.

Thomas Merton, while being the most well-known monk of his day, often went unnoticed.

One said, “If you had asked me which one he was, he would have been the second to last one I picked.”

The reason for this:

His laughter.

He adds, “He was always laughing! And I had an idea that a monk should be very serious.”

It causes me to think of that opening scene in the film Amadeus. Where Mozart is running around like a wild child, and the much older, Antonio Salieri, is looking for this divine musical prodigy.

When he’s told that the immature child is, in fact, Mozart, he’s appalled.

I love this barrier that is broken. It’s the shining moment when fact and fiction collide. The hero is right there.

Questions to consider:

What are our often preconceived notions of others?

How can we change them to see through a different lens?

And if we do, how will this free us to experience personal joy in brand new ways?

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Influence

If your sphere of influence is literal,

what does it touch?

One person at work.

Maybe two at the store.

These are three people, in that order,

that no one else has the privilege to encounter

quite like you.

To make an impact.

Them on you.

And conversely,

you on them.

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Poem

Ocean, ocean pushing past

You traveled far and now you’re here

To wet the feet of sunburned travelers

Your touch is like bathwater

The foam of many rolls

Thank you for breaking where you did

Our toes are grateful

The sand climbs to our calves

The wind pushes beyond the dunes

Resplendent mercies are ours

From your mighty efforts