Some reflections in Henry C. Palmisano Park using the Frälsarkransen (Swedish prayer bracelet invented by Bp Martin Lönnebo)
This season (September plus a bit of October) is recognized ecumenically as Creationtide. Sitting by the lake in the park (made out of an old quarry) I began to pray with my prayer bracelet as I enjoyed the sights, sounds, smells and other senses of the wilderness plantation.
The words in capitals are the names of the beads. If you want more information about the bracelet, try googling “Prayers of Life”.
GOD as creator, and the man who created the idea of this park, and all the men and women who contribute to its upkeep. God gave us a world for us to be creative in, a giant playground. I hope God enjoys the results.
MYSELF, or yourself, or the self of the water rat, the butterfly, or so many of the sparrows two of which were sold for one farthing, all enjoying this beautiful day.
BAPTISM, or as I would want to call it in this context, BELONGING. All part of the same universe, God’s world (though who says God has only one world?) As a retreatant, I belong, to these few days, to the monastery where I am staying and am welcomed and remembered in prayer. And all this, and all those I meet, are part of my pilgrimage, and affirm my pilgrimage.
DESERT. I think this bead should be covered in sand or grit. Instead, I pick up a rough pebble. The “wilderness” here is one of several native planting seeds in Chicago. I passed another on the Lakeside trail yesterday. The City Fathers, or some of them, clearly feel the need for a bit of wilderness in our over-structured lives. As Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, “Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet!”
SERENITY – that is the blue bead. It is very peaceful by the lake, and that is certainly something we need in busy lives.
LOVE GIVEN AND RECEIVED – the two red beads. There is a double purpose to Creationtide: praise to God the Creator for this wonderful world, and concern (which may be expressed as intercession, confession or both) about mankind’s care for it. In this park, I thank God for the plants, birds, animals and insects, but also for those who made this wilderness planting and maintain it.
THE SECRET BEADS – I prayed first for my family, then for all concerned with this park, and finally for our care for the environment on a larger scale. Some bracelets replace one of these beads with a green one, standing for both ECOLOGY and DIAKONI (deacons in Sweden wear green clerical shirts).
DARKNESS / DEATH and LIGHT / RESURRECTION
On these last two beads I reflect on the natural cycles of day-night, summer-winter, growth-decay. The notices about the planting point out that it looks different in every season, as some plants die back and others grow. I remember a nature reserve in Sweden where trees which had fallen in the hurricane were left lying to provide a rich habitat for insects.
Some of this, I know, is a bit far-fetched, but it gave a focus for the morning’s walk.