It’s been a week for dots. Lots and lots of dots. And dots, in my world, mean prayers. It has assuredly been a week for that, as well.
From the tragic festival shootings in California and New York last weekend, to struggling friends, to rainforests, to last night’s debate, to the need for some embodied prayer in my own world………………………………………………… Dots!
This is, as many of you know, a whole person way of praying, or holding intention, that combines verbal/auditory, visual, and kinesthetic processes in a powerful way. (In this instance, the kinesthetic part is the movement of making the dots, as well as the feel of the brush on the canvas. If you use the handle end of the brush, as I do, it almost becomes drum-like.) Music that moves you adds to the journey. And, of course, favorite paint colors!
In this case, I began with a canvas already holding the drippy under layers of another painting, only begun. (It volunteered!) The limey green, purple, and orange are some of my favorite quilt colors, comforting and familiar.
Generally I make prayer dots while holding a particular word or name or thought in mind and repeating it (silently) with each dot. This week, my dots were doing double/triple/quadruple duty so I needed a slightly different plan and, like my canvas, the Metta Prayer (Or Great Prayer of Compassion) volunteered.
This is an ancient prayer, common to a variety of traditions and different languages, which, for me, kind of says it all, despite the fact that it is not a prayer they covered when I was in seminary!
I begin my dots with the specific names or events or challenges that are in my heart, making a dot for each.
Then, the first “verse” of the version I know best:
May I be peaceful.
May I be happy.
May I be well.
May I be safe.
May I be free from suffering.
Then repeat, substituting all people for I.
May all people be peaceful…
And repeat again, substituting all beings for all people.
Now, just in case you’re wondering, no, I can’t do all those words and make dots at the same time. Yet!
Here’s what I can do. Metta… Metta… Metta……………………………
It’s a bit like emojis, I’ll admit, but if I set my intention and focus, it really works. And decreases stress at the same time! One of those both brain hemispheres at once things, kind of like knitting which, by the way, works for praying, too!
If you want your dots to stay in distinct colors, do one color at a time and then get a cup of tea while they dry. Add more dots, one color at a time, until you feel complete in your prayer.
Small children, especially those experiencing grief or stress, can learn to make dots with their fingertips, repeating a name or an emotion, like sad, or a petition, like safe. (This may be best done outside!) Always be sure to use non-toxic paints, please. Or crayons on paper!
As I write this, I’m sitting in my magic chair, with my Liberated Flying Geese quilt which is, for me, a symbol of the Holy Spirit. It is also, providentially, backed with these amazing swirls of gem-toned dots!
Phoebe, our chief studio angel, is dozing on the rubber mat below my footrest.
Suddenly, she stretched and reached a back foot up where it brushed the bottom of my own foot, softly, a connection to a loving, living being that was a blessing in itself.
So be it for you, as well. Amen.