Materials needed: pen or pencil and paper, a table, post-it notes (smaller size), a sturdy plastic bag, and small objects to fill it up with such as stones, coins, marbles, or whatever you can find that will allow you to stick on a post-it note
Pick a quiet place in your home to do this exercise and make sure you can sit still comfortably for several minutes.
Find a table to sit at and place your plastic bag in front of you with the post-it notes and objects. As a way to empty your mind, look at your pile and mentally attach a thought or concern to each object. Place the object in the plastic bag as a way of putting those concerns aside so you can concentrate on being in the presence of God. Do this until you feel you have released your cares and then sit quietly for a moment or two.
Choosing your spiritual discipline
Next, empty the plastic bag onto the table. You will now assign ideas for spiritual disciplines to your objects as a way of building on your storehouse of treasure. You can start from the list in this book, but the idea is to think of things you enjoy doing that could remind you of God.
Brainstorm with these ideas:
- If you love to cook for your family, pray over each part of the meal as an offering to God and your family. Cap it off by leading your family in grace at the dinner table. If this idea appeals to you, write “meal and prayer” on your post–it note and stick it to your object.
- Take a hot, scented bath—a great place to pray in peace. I used to say my rosary in the tub when the children were little—it was the only quiet room in the house! Use your imagination to link the feel of the water and the warmth to feelings you have about God. If you would like to try this idea, write “bath” on your post–it note and stick it to another object.
- If you’re into technology, set your Google calendar to send you an e-mail each hour during the day to remind you to offer short prayers for something in particular. It can be a mixture of petitions, praise and thanksgivings, a quick examination of conscience, formal prayers such as The Angelus at noon or the Divine Mercy at three in the afternoon. Choose a bell sound on your phone to notify you, just like monks would hear at the abbey. If you like this idea, write “Google calendar” on your post–it note and stick it onto the next object.
- Maybe you like to sing. Purchase a CD of favorite church hymns, contemporary Christian songs, or even popular music that would remind you of God. Take a drive and sing along, maybe even at the top of your lungs, as a prayer to God. If this idea appeals to you, write “sing” on your post–it and stick it on the next object.
- Perhaps you enjoy partaking of the rich assortment of spoken prayers offered by our Church such as the Rosary, the Divine Chaplet, the Angelus and the Liturgy of the Hours. It takes spiritual maturity to stick with these prayers; boredom and distractions are very real obstacles. There comes a point, however, when you able to transcend those obstacles and receive spiritual insight and consolation. If you enjoy such prayers, write “church prayers” on your post-it and stick it on the next object.
These are just suggestions which will hopefully inspire you to come up with your own ideas when you are ready.
Pray and Ponder …
When you have finished labeling your objects (and don’t be disturbed if you only have a few; hopefully, you will continue to add to the pile), place them all in the plastic bag. Offer your spiritual disciplines to God and ask him to fill you with his treasures with the promise that you will do your part to keep your disciplines. Place the bag in a prominent place as a reminder of your promise.
copyright 2015 Susan W. Bailey;
from Chapter 1 of River of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times,
published by Ave Maria Press