This entry in the Witness Blog is submitted by Lynne Meyer.
This year Lent begins on March 1st. However, I began my Lenten discipline a bit early this year and, as a result, I produced this little book shown at the right.
I have doodled away my prayer time daily in the above manner for almost 9 years now and have filled 33 journals and am up to Page 3250! Needless to say, storage of these doodle prayers was becoming a problem so I decided to compile my favorites into a book, which Fr. Adam felt it would be fun to share.
Although I am part of the Intercessory Prayer Chain, I have to admit I have always been a clock-watcher when it comes to praying. My prayers were boring, repetitive, and dull…not to mention I was antsy and only able to last a few minutes. I always thought of a discipline as something one did obediently but with gritted teeth. However, now I find prayer time exciting and I can spend hours at it without regard for time. I was inspired by Sybil MacBeth, wife of an Episcopal priest in Memphis. She has produced many books, journals, and videos for all ages on what she calls “Praying in Color.”
I was fascinated at this new concept and curious to learn more. It’s all about tapping into the right side of your brain, as opposed to what most of us do which is tapping into the left side of our brain. The right side is where the mother lode of creativity resides; the left side is where the logical, scientific, puzzle- and problem-solving center lies. Unless you are a professional musician, artist, or poet, you, like most people, are spending most of your time using the left side of your brain. In our world where multi-tasking and always being on the run have become a way of life, it’s hard to take time to stop and discover what Holy Uselessness, Holy Leisure, the Leisurely Mind, the Art of Inner Silence, and Virtuous Inefficiency are… AND, what the enemies of Holy Leisure are. No great
Eureka! moments, revelations, epiphanies, or creative ideas can flow into a cluttered, exhausted mind. You definitely do not have to be an artist AND the wonderful thing is that there is no right or wrong. Everyone will have their own personal style and even that will morph over time. As Sybil MacBeth says, “Giving up control of your pen to God is much like let-ting your dog take you for a walk!” Don’t worry about any misspellings… this is for your eyes only… just move on and don’t throw the prayer away. Only God is perfect and it’s the heart-felt prayer that counts.
To begin, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, concentrate on the sounds of Creation around you, and it helps to repeat a word or two (like, “Abba” or “Jesus” or “Holy Spirit”) before you begin. Let go and let God. Remember, an active, meditative, playful prayer time is to be encouraged! Like any father, God enjoys having fun and a few laughs with His Children!
Start simply with a few irregular shapes, such as ones suggested by Sybil MacBeth, using hardly any words, as pictured at left.
Here’s how I chose to express a prayer when I was so frustrated and feeling pulled in all directions. I just let my pen flow freely over the paper and left some open spaces to let the Holy Spirit breathe through it. Then, in the spaces formed by criss-crossed lines, I added a face or two, my words of frustration, some color, and some lit candles to signify prayer.
SUGGESTION: Buy a desktop calendar at the drugstore and, starting with Ash Wednesday (March 1), fill in a doodle prayer for each day until Easter (April 16). Better yet, JUST KEEP GOING!