For years, my primary way of exercising was walking outdoors in the beauty of nature. I often stopped along the way to take photos of flowers and trees, ponds and woods, and sunrises and sunsets. I came to see my walks as a spiritual practice that brought me closer to God while providing my body with physical exercise.
This summer, I was challenged to add strength training to my daily and weekly exercise routine. Little did I realize how much I would benefit by adding a few simple exercises to my life. After eight weeks, my body is now much stronger and I feel so much better! And, to my surprise, it has become easy to add strength training to my activities of daily living.
Strength training has also become a metaphor for my spiritual life. For many years, the Daily Office/Prayer was my basic spiritual practice. At times, meditation and journaling were also part of my every day routine. For the past few years, I have added various sacred arts and crafts to my spiritual practices.
Just this past month, I have added something new to this list ~ prayer stitching. After decades of not picking up needle and thread except for mending purposes, I was inspired by a blog post by Sibyl Dana Reynolds to start stitching my prayers.
Now, in the quiet stillness of morning, I often find myself listening to the sound of my prayer stitching. I hear the needle piercing the linen cloth and the swish of the colorful embroidery thread as it is pulled through the tiny openings in the cloth. Over and over again, these sacred sounds lift my heart to prayer. Ancient words of hymns and prayers readily come to mind: Ave Maria…Salve Regina…Glory Be.
As I sit and stich my prayers, I feel the sacredness of my task. I sense that I am one with circles of women across time and space who have created garments for their families and communities, who have made altar cloths and vestments for churches and chapels, and who have stitched quilts and table linens for home and hearth. There is a holy hush that envelops us all and brings us closer to our Beloved and to one another.
My stitching has become like spiritual strength training as I know that by adding this spiritual practice my prayer life is now more focused and stronger than ever.