A year begins, though what will unfold is not yet clear. Acknowledging the uncertainties in our country, I admit that fear, anxiety and even anger accompany me into each new day.
And so I turn to my prayer stone ritual which has helped to anchor and sustain me over the years whether my faith was dry or my heart broken open. When I want to remember someone in prayer, I inscribe a name on a small beach stone before placing it into the pottery bowl on my altar. Stones carry the earth’s memory and are ancient reminders of faithful endurance. During my daily meditation/prayer practice, each stone is warmed in my hands while I send loving kindness and healing thoughts to that person. The days pass; weeks turn into months and my prayer bowl fills and becomes a holy chalice. When the New Year arrives, I gather my stones and make a pilgrimage to a rugged outdoor seaside chapel. Inside the open entrance facing the sea is an altar made from a massive boulder on which hundreds of offerings are placed. There among the coins and candles, photos, flowers, prayer beads, charms, and dozens of notes and letters, I humbly consecrate my stones by laying them on the altar as a way to feel connection with all the faithful others who came before me seeking prayer, petition and hope.
The yearly ritual completes when my stones and their prayers are released, one by one, into the wintry sea to the whisper of every name. The prayer bowl is now empty awaiting more stones and prayers as the year unfolds.
Today I wrote “PEACE” and “LOVE” on the year’s first stone. When turbulence, uncertainties and conflict arise, may I remember to resist and stand in peace and love. Imagine the possibilities if each of us across the nation wrote “PEACE” and “LOVE” on a stone and warmed it in our hands every morning as our intention for the day. Together, aligned with truth and infused with hope, may we live love and be peace.