The prayer trees

first_img Curate (Associate & Priest-in-Charge) Traverse City, MI By Lori EricksonPosted Apr 12, 2012 Rector Hopkinsville, KY [Episcopal News Service] If you walk by my church on a warm spring day, at first glance you might think we’ve been targeted by pranksters: outside our front door, several of the trees bear a rainbow of ribbons, brightly colored strips of cloth that flutter in each passing breeze.The ribbons aren’t the result of hijinks, for we have actually invited their presence by setting up a small kiosk near the trees that contains a blank notebook and a bag full of fabric ribbons. “Offer your healing prayers here,” says a sign, while inside the kiosk is another note that explains that people around the world have long put ribbons on trees as symbol of their prayers.When we set up the kiosk we weren’t sure how this addition to our church lawn would be received. Located as we are in the middle of a busy university town, we worried that it might be a target for vandalism or that no one would take advantage of its invitation to pray. Nearly a year later, our trees are adorned with hundreds of ribbons, bearing colorful testimony to those who have stopped for a few moments in front of our church to offer prayers.Many people have also left petitions in the blank book, prayers that are given voice each Tuesday morning during our weekly healing service. “I pray that I may be strong enough to do what must be done,” says one. “I pray that the Holy Spirit will allow my grandmother to forgive those who have hurt her,” says another. “We pray that our downstairs neighbor will be OK,” offers another.The brief prayers make me wonder about the lives behind them. What has happened to the grandmother who can’t forgive? Why does that downstairs neighbor need prayers? I’ll never know, but that mystery is part of the beauty of the ribbons.A prayer tree at Trinity Episcopal Church in Iowa City, Iowa. Photo/Lori EricksonI also appreciate how the prayer trees are a form of quiet outreach and support to those who walk by our door. “I tied a ribbon on one of your trees for my sister who has cancer,” a friend told me the other day, someone whom I know does not have a faith community. “It makes me feel better to see it as I walk by each day.”One of my favorite prayers left at the kiosk is this one: “I give a prayer of thanksgiving for this church for providing this awesome opportunity to pray as a community.” Given the fact that the person signed this message with an extravagantly large heart, she was probably young enough to consider “awesome” as a synonym for “great.” I like to think our prayer trees are awesome in the original meaning of the word as well.As Episcopalians we rightly value the historic liturgies of our church, crafting our services with beautiful words and music. I greatly appreciate those efforts, but I often find myself pausing outside our church on Sunday mornings to look at the ribbons dancing in the breeze. I think that perhaps as beautiful as the service has been, it is these prayers that go most swiftly to God’s ear, for in matters of the heart, simplicity is better than complexity.I’m reminded too of a line from Lauren Winner’s powerful new memoir, “Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis.” As Winner struggles with trying to keep her spiritual life alive through a time of doubt and trial, she takes comfort from a poem written by Carrie Fountain. Prayer, the poet writes, “was the last skill I learned. I practiced rigorously. Just as I was getting good, I lost it. As soon as it was gone, I understood it was not a skill at all.”That’s why I think those ribbons have something to teach us about how to pray. Our words don’t have to be elaborate or skillfully crafted. They don’t have to be spoken inside a church or led by a member of the clergy. However they’re formed, the spirit will take the words where they need to go, borne on the wings of each passing spring breeze.— Lori Erickson writes about inner and outer journeys at www.spiritualtravels.info. She serves as a deacon at Trinity Episcopal Church in Iowa City, Iowa. The Rev. Judith Jones, Vicar says: Priest Associate or Director of Adult Ministries Greenville, SC Featured Events Associate Rector Columbus, GA Catherine weir says: Virtual Celebration of the Jerusalem Princess Basma Center Zoom Conversation June 19 @ 12 p.m. ET Remember Holy Land Christians on Jerusalem Sunday, June 20 American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem Episcopal Church releases new prayer book translations into Spanish and French, solicits feedback Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs April 12, 2012 at 8:32 pm So glad you posted a picture too, how wonderful….. Catherine weir says: The prayer trees Assistant/Associate Rector Morristown, NJ Submit a Press Release Rector Knoxville, TN TryTank Experimental Lab and York St. John University of England Launch Survey to Study the Impact of Covid-19 on the Episcopal Church TryTank Experimental Lab Rector Martinsville, VA Featured Jobs & Calls Rector/Priest in Charge (PT) Lisbon, ME Rector Smithfield, NC Missioner for Disaster Resilience Sacramento, CA Associate Rector for Family Ministries Anchorage, AK Join the Episcopal Diocese of Texas in Celebrating the Pauli Murray Feast Online Worship Service June 27 An Evening with Presiding Bishop Curry and Iconographer Kelly Latimore Episcopal Migration Ministries via Zoom June 23 @ 6 p.m. ET Rector Shreveport, LA Assistant/Associate Priest Scottsdale, AZ Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of New York Hires Reverend Kevin W. VanHook, II as Executive Director Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of New York Press Release Service February 20, 2016 at 4:17 am It’s is with regret that I have to inform my friends that my loving husband Alex passed away on 18th February after a long battle with cancer. Please pray for his son and all his friends and relations. Thank you November 23, 2012 at 4:14 pm When I sew quilt tops and trim my fabric, I take the ribbon like pieces and put them in my magnolia tree. Recently my friend, Joe spent 11 weeks in the hospital with his second round of leukemia. Every day I would go out and touch each piece and say a prayer. He’s home now and gaining weight.I love my prayer tree. I would love to forward a picture. April 13, 2012 at 12:19 am Beautiful thought,Beautiful action carried through,Beautiful ribbons floating prayers above.Beautiful words,Beautiful woman who wrote them. Submit an Event Listing Director of Administration & Finance Atlanta, GA Rector Pittsburgh, PA Inaugural Diocesan Feast Day Celebrating Juneteenth San Francisco, CA (and livestream) June 19 @ 2 p.m. PT Virtual Episcopal Latino Ministry Competency Course Online Course Aug. 9-13 center_img This Summer’s Anti-Racism Training Online Course (Diocese of New Jersey) June 18-July 16 Rector Albany, NY The Church Investment Group Commends the Taskforce on the Theology of Money on its report, The Theology of Money and Investing as Doing Theology Church Investment Group Phyllis Clark says: Rector (FT or PT) Indian River, MI Rector Washington, DC In-person Retreat: Thanksgiving Trinity Retreat Center (West Cornwall, CT) Nov. 24-28 Seminary of the Southwest announces appointment of two new full time faculty members Seminary of the Southwest Associate Priest for Pastoral Care New York, NY AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to PrintFriendlyPrintFriendlyShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailShare to MoreAddThis February 17, 2016 at 7:19 pm Could you please pray for my husband he has just gone into Roxbury house in Dundee. He has lung cancer Bishop Diocesan Springfield, IL Ya no son extranjeros: Un diálogo acerca de inmigración Una conversación de Zoom June 22 @ 7 p.m. ET Comments are closed. Canon for Family Ministry Jackson, MS An Evening with Aliya Cycon Playing the Oud Lancaster, PA (and streaming online) July 3 @ 7 p.m. ET Director of Music Morristown, NJ Youth Minister Lorton, VA Episcopal Migration Ministries’ Virtual Prayer Vigil for World Refugee Day Facebook Live Prayer Vigil June 20 @ 7 p.m. ET Carolyn Beranek says: Rector and Chaplain Eugene, OR Rector Collierville, TN Curate Diocese of Nebraska Cathedral Dean Boise, ID April 15, 2012 at 2:25 am What a beautiful visible sign of his Love & Prayers in action…Let His Spirit Rise & Shine! O Yeh! New Berrigan Book With Episcopal Roots Cascade Books Rector Belleville, IL Lin Newman says: The Church Pension Fund Invests $20 Million in Impact Investment Fund Designed to Preserve Workforce Housing Communities Nationwide Church Pension Group Submit a Job Listing Rector Tampa, FL Priest-in-Charge Lebanon, OH Course Director Jerusalem, Israel Comments (6) Assistant/Associate Rector Washington, DC Rector Bath, NC Family Ministry Coordinator Baton Rouge, LAlast_img

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