Oil and water and stone, prayers of Sharyl Peterson — From the Psalms to the Cloud

On Mondays I am sharing new work from the book From the Psalms to the Cloud – connecting to the Digital Age. Today I share some of the wonderful embodied prayers of Sharyl Peterson’s of Hope Springs Counseling in Grand Junction Colorado.

From the book: Grace Paley is quoted in A God in the House: Poets Talk About Faith, edited by Ilya Kaminsky and Katherine Towler. “There’s a quote, I don’t know who said it, ‘Find me a God because I am full of prayers.’” People in pews, people online—all are full of prayers. We are called to invite the prayers. We are called to introduce the pray- ers to God. We invite some of those prayers not just with words, but by ritual and props. Sharyl Peterson creates liturgy often that reaches out to human senses:

“I sometimes write prayers that intentionally incorporate symbolic objects that have long been used in faith rituals, like oil, water, stones, flame. I am including here three brief prayers I wrote which incorporate different objects”:

O God, with this oil, touch ———— gently. ———— , with this anointing,
(touch her/his eyes gently) may your eyes be blessed for clearer seeing,
(touch her/his ears gently) may your ears be opened for deeper hearing,
(touch her/his lips gently) may your lips be blessed for needful speaking,
(touch her/his forehead, heart, abdomen, hands, feet as it seems appropriate)
may every part of you be filled with God’s power and love. Amen.

(Sprinkle person’s head with cool water.)
May this water refresh you,
renew you,
and restore you,
with God’s healing grace. Amen.

During a church leadership training session, I passed around a basket of stones, and invited each person to take one. Then I said this prayer:

Feel the texture of your stone;
feel its coolness or warmth in your hand;
feel its firmness and its shape.
These stones remind us
that, like a rock,
God is solid under our feet.
And so we pray together,
Holy God, help us stand firm (they repeat the line)
trusting in your wisdom, (they repeat the line)
growing in goodness, (they repeat the line)
and doing what is right.(they repeat the line)
Amen. (they repeat the Amen).

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