I taught myself to make jewelry during one of the loneliest times in my life. My long-time partner and I had separated; I wanted a child, but he did not, so we parted ways. When he walked out the door of our home and into his new life across the globe, I had to learn how to be alone.
Trying to get my bearings, I found beading a calming pursuit. One evening, a few months into my new hobby, I made myself a necklace.
As I was beading, the idea came to me to say a short prayer on each bead:
On one bead I prayed: God’s mercy.
On the next I prayed: God’s protection.
God’s love followed and then God’s healing.
The pattern repeated: God’s mercy. God’s protection. God’s love. God’s healing.
And it repeated again: God’s mercy. God’s protection. God’s love. God’s healing.
And it repeated again and again and again–until all the beads were strung. The next day, I went to a meditation service held at a local spiritual center. I had never visited this center before, nor had I ever meditated, but I wanted to learn. I proudly wore my necklace; in fact, I remember choosing a very neutral blouse, so the necklace–with its stunning green pearls and faceted labradorite beads–would stand out all the more. I found much peace in the service: in the lighting of candles, in the offering of prayers, in the chanting.
Right before the silent meditation session was to start, the leader of the service, a woman named Paula, took out a blue velvet bag and asked everyone to come and make an offering. “It doesn’t have to be money,” she told the group. “Give what is yours to give; follow your heart.” I felt an immediate and strong impulse to put my necklace in that velvet bag. I also felt a bit of resistance to the idea–I mean, I made that beautiful necklace for myself. It was so personal. And those green pearls! I knew I would never find anything like them again. Yet, I surrendered into the notion, and once I surrendered I didn’t look back.
I took off the necklace and walked toward the velvet bag. There were a few people in front of me, so as I waited I blessed the necklace, releasing it to the person for whom it was meant. When I put it in the bag, Paula looked startled–stunned may be a better word–but I felt exhilarated. I felt as if I had heard–and followed–Divine guidance. From that moment onward, I began to pray into every necklace and bracelet I made. I even began making prayer beads. When I wasn’t praying into beads, I would write down my prayers–filling notebook after notebook. As I leaned into this type of prayer, I learned that the writing and repeating of the prayers was taming my mind by directing my thoughts in a regenerative way.
Somehow, despite my deep sadness and loneliness, teaching myself how to bead taught me something even more glorious: to hear the voice of Spirit. I still write my prayers and affirmations; doing so keeps me going, gives me something to hold onto, helps me soothe myself, and points me toward the Divine.
In the last twelve years, I have strung thousands of beads and written thousands of prayers. Some prayers are just one word (peace, clarity, love). Some are phrases linked directly to what is happening in my life (The right car comes to me quickly, under grace). Some are cries for help (Lord have mercy), and some are affirmations (Divine wisdom is at work in every aspect of this situation). One specific prayer (Light up my path, Spirit; show me the way) brought me to the Write Mind Studio, and I hope you will join me here.
At Write Mind Studio, you are supported in finding your way to mindfulness and empowerment. Get yourself a notebook. Choose an inspiring song lyric, a scripture from your religious tradition, a Sanskrit mantra, a word that inspires you, or the name of God. Then get a pen and write your prayer again and again and again until you begin to feel it. Pray what is yours to pray; affirm what is yours to affirm. Follow your heart.
Footnote: I returned to the meditation service the following week to find Paula wearing the necklace I surrendered into the velvet bag. She and I quickly became close friends, and now we are family: she and her partner are the godparents to the daughter I adopted. And so it is.
Jill A. Lahnstein is a mother, a teacher, a writer, and a jewelry artist. She lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with her teenage daughter Angel and their little canine sidekick Sunny. She has spent over 20 years teaching English to college students. Most of her experience has been with those students who are first-generation, economically disadvantaged, or disabled. She fervently believes that every moment–inside the classroom and outside the classroom–can be a healing moment.