Encircled by Prayer
The chairs on our lawn always catch my gaze as I look out to the paddock beyond. Used for our daily prayers that are now outside whenever possible, today they were arranged in a perfect circle. Early Celtic Christians regarded a circle as a sacred space, a symbol of the universe in which God lives at the centre, as well as something having no beginning or end and therefore representing God's love and time itself in eternity. It is these times of prayer that have carried me through this last year of change and uncertainty.
What is important here though, is not the chairs, but the people that will come to occupy them, that sense of wholeness, for me, is not perfected without a diverse group of people coming and joining together, sitting in a circle, and sharing, becoming part of that unity. All are invited to come and make up the circle, and if a chair is left empty, I like to think of God occupying that space.
As we sit to share our times of prayer and reflection, in this circle, equal value is assigned to each person’s contribution. The presence of each person, and anything they read, or share is as significant in our collective understanding of the mystery of God as that shared by anyone else regardless of their qualifications, skills, ability and experience or lack of them.
As precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus become less and less necessary, I hope we can welcome more and more people and groups of people, to come and for a short while, take their place in this circle, to make the Bield complete.
However, you can also create your own prayer circles at home. The Celtic Christians developed the concept of circling prayers. They would 'draw' a circle round themselves as they prayed, thus involving their whole selves - body, mind, soul, and spirit. The basic idea is to pray for God's encircling - for his love, peace, and protection in, and discouragement, danger, and turmoil out. These are especially helpful when we find ourselves in circumstances which are bewildering or overwhelming, as well as in times of pain and grief, when we cannot find words or when words seem inadequate.
As you pray, extend your right index finger, and draw a circle clockwise around yourself, or trace a circle on your left hand. Imagine a circle of God's love around you and see yourself and others for whom you are praying enclosed in God's love, care, and protection. The basic prayer is something like this:
Circle me, Lord. Keep protection near and danger afar. Circle me, Lord. Keep light near and darkness afar. Circle me, Lord. Keep peace within; keep evil out.