Prayer Ties – a Prayer Practice for This Uncertain Time
On Easter Saturday, Father Richard Rohr, director of the Centre for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque New Mexico, wrote about the indigenous tradition of “prayer ties”
(https://cac.org/reality-initiating-us-part-two-weekly-summary-2020-04-11/). The following is adapted/excerpted from that source.
We invite you to join in this practice – a visible sign to our community of all the prayers for this pandemic, for all those who are suffering as a result of COVID-19, those who have already lost their lives, and those who are healthcare workers attending to the sick. We can also experience doing this as a personal blessing since, just as so many of the mystics have taught us, doing what we are doing with presence and intention is itself prayer.
People in almost every faith tradition across the world have ways of hanging simple objects as expressions of prayer, sending forth love, courage and healing into the world.
In Ireland, Scotland and Wales people tie strips of colored cloth called “clooties,” to ask for blessings. Buddhist prayer flags hold prayers blown by the wind to promote peace, compassion and wisdom.
These days, many churches are tying ribbons, banners or cloth around trees to enrich worship during isolation. In our Diocese, we are aware of St Helen’s Orleans adopting this practice.
The Lakota and Cherokee people use prayer ties as offerings of prayers, intentions and gratitude, tying them to trees or leaving them in sacred places. All who come in contact with the prayer ties are blessed by the intentions and prayers.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE
Prayer ties can be attached to a favorite tree, bush, plant or other natural element. Although many indigenous traditions use tobacco and cloth representing the four directions, for your prayerful intentions you can use any fabric at hand and add offerings of seeds, special stones, written prayerful words, etc.
The Center for Action and Contemplation has sought and received permission to share this particular version with you from the First Nations website Dances for All People (https://danceforallpeople.com/prayer-ties/). We thank them and Sister Joan Brown for introducing us to this beautiful practice.
To make prayer ties:
- Gather your thoughts in a contemplative, devotional manner.
- Cut cotton cloth into small squares about 4 x 4 inches.
- Write your prayer intentions of gratitude, healing, wisdom, for those suffering, etc. on a slip of paper.
- Place the folded paper in the center of your square of fabric and add any other symbols of your intentions.
- Use string, yarn or strips of cloth to tie the cloth into a bundle.
- With prayer, song and gratitude attach the prayer bundle(s) to a tree or sacred place outdoors.
- Visit this place with prayer and gratitude often.
Here are examples of prayer ties or bundles made by our parishioners. They have been tied to trees in their gardens (you can also tie bundles to the tree in front of our church