My dear friend Karen Hernandez made these prayer beads for me to take on the Camino. I love how artists think — they are so intentional in what they include, whether it is the fabric chosen in a quilt, colors or mediums in a painting or the particular stones in prayer beads.
Karen wrote: “The shell is for your upcoming pilgrimage. The clip at the top is in case you want to attach them to your pack on the Camino. The green stones were chosen with Ireland in mind and in hopes that you would feel yourself grounded, strong, connected to God our Rock throughout your journey.” (“Amen,” I thought!)
“The round beads are lava rock, which is very porous and light. May your heart (and your backpack) be light! May you also be porous — absorbing all of the grace and challenges and lessons and love that come your way. Hold onto those that are meant to be held, while the others go from you as easily as they come to you.”
I was sharing in one of my groups just about some of the things I am having the opportunity to release — particularly the fears, the need to be needed, the involvement with the church, oh the list goes on — and my lay leader Susan said, “God is lightening your pack, Brian.” Indeed. So imagine how much more significant the choice of these porous beads was to me! I’ve discovered some really petty, small, childish thinking hidden in my heart that I am getting to release before I leave. Good thing.
Karen continued: “My favorite use of prayer beads is sometimes called ‘listening to the beads,’ or letting them guide my prayers. I always find the open circles with other, movable beads inside to be the most meaningful listening/praying for me. They generally lead me to pray about where God is moving or how I am stuck, the ways God’s love encircles me, and so on.”
“Use them as you will, in whatever way is right for you.”
That first day I received them, I took a walk, and while walking prayed through the beads. As I came to the circle with the bead within it and began to pray about how God surrounds me with His love, His presence was undeniable, rich, tender. I arrived at two green stones, side by side and the Lord led me to pray for couples in the church, they they would be strong in love, stand with one another, be filled with love. With the single green stone, I prayed similarly for those who are single. There is something powerful about holding the beads, using them, being led by them. And there is such a richness in how much thought and prayer Karen put into them. And such a need for continuing to learn to pray, how to pray in these times.