Now is a time of caution, preparedness, and grief, but that does not mean it is not also a time of prayer.
As I detail in my book, many people with disabilities need ways to pray without words at least some of the time. People without disabilities will also find these prayer practices helpful, alongside their usual practices. Here are a few resources to add to your prayers as you keep your family near.
God is with us in all of our feelings
In this pandemic, the likes of which is unprecedented in our lifetimes, we will feel a full range of emotions. Every one of those feelings are welcome to God.
Use the first page of this prayer printable along with your family icon corner, or print both pages to use them together.
Plant a Hope and Memory Garden
In my family, one of the ways we pray for people who have reposed is by planting significant flowers that remind us of them. When we care for the plants and see the plants bloom every year, we remember those who have reposed and thank God for them and make our cross in prayer for them. In my family, some plantings are specific. Each year, I plant a few more daffodils in memory of our third child whom we lost to miscarriage just when the daffodils were blooming several years ago. Cannas and marigolds remind me of my dad, because he always had those in our gardens growing up. We remember my husband’s grandmother with our fig trees and my great-grandmother with any red flower we can manage to grow (Granny LOVED red). We also have some plants that remind us of the usual mercy of God, like Michaelmas daisies, which grow so vigorously that they overtake any place they’re planted, reminding us that we are all held dear.
This season of pandemic will sadly bring with it new griefs, either of those we hold dear or those in our community for whom we would like to have a way to pray. Find a plant that grows well in your area, and remember them while you tend it over the seasons. If you don’t know which flower to choose, buy roses for the Holy Theotokos and ask her help in praying.
Spring is also a good time to plant basil herbs. They grow easily from seeds, and if you start them over the next several weeks of this social distancing period, they will be ready to harvest at the end of summer when we celebrate the Elevation of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross.
Nest and Egg Prayers
How lovely is thy dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yea, faints
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at thy altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in thy house,
ever singing thy praise! -Psalm 84:2-4
Materials: Plastic or papier mache bowl, school glue, brown paper such as packing paper, bits of yarn or string; plastic eggs; small printouts of photos of loved ones.
To set up this prayer opportunity, start with a plastic bowl (or make a papier mache bowl if you’re really crafty and have lots of time). With your children, tear small pieces of brown paper and glue them to the inside and outside of the bowl. (We gave each child a little puddle of glue for dipping the paper.) Have them untwist little sections of yarn, and glue the yarn to the bowl, concentrating the fluff on the inside.
Once the bowl is ready, print out photos of loved ones for whom you would like to pray. Have a child cut them out, or help them with this step. Work together to fold or roll the photos to fit inside the plastic eggs.
PRACTICE THE PRAYER
Place the nest under your icons, and have the children add the eggs to the nest as a way to pray for the people in the photos.
You might enjoy saying, chanting, or singing the verses from the Psalm. I recited them for my kids, then sang them. Afterwards we sang a bespoke song that went, “We are God’s chicks. Cheep! Cheep! Cheep!” This activity is a great way of talking with anxious kids about how God loves us and is a place for us even when we’re vulnerable.