An Evolution of Prayer
Rahamim Ecology Centre has introduced Body Prayer as a regular activity featured at their gatherings and retreats. The ritual draws from different ancient traditions around the world and contemporary wisdom.
Sr Miriam MacGillis, of the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell (of Genesis Farm in New Jersey), designed this form of prayer or meditation which involved movements of the body similar to Tai Chi or Qi gong.
Former EarthSong Coordinator, Pat Long, once an intern at Genesis Farm, brought the meditative prayer to Australia and used it in her programs. She inspired use of the prayer at Rahamim Ecology Centre where it is now facilitated by Eco-Education Coordinator, Sally Neaves. After studying the movements and symbolism, and having been given permission to practice by Sr Miriam MacGillis, Sally now runs all of the body prayer sessions – including the daily morning sessions at their retreats.
This ritual body prayer offers us an opportunity to experience a style of prayer very different to how we typically think of communal prayer in the Christian tradition.
“We are increasingly wondering how to pray in this new context of an evolving universe,” says Sally. “Body Prayer allows us to draw on our religious stories, but also take into account this ever evolving story.”
The movements of the Body Prayer Ritual honour the cycles and the four directions (North, East, South and West) as archetypal processes, metaphors and symbolic influences. It acknowledges the reality of opposites as we embrace the gifts of all directions and draw them into our bodies, integrating them like a bridge.
“People love this form of prayer,” says Sally. “They find it quite refreshing as it is not about sitting still; it’s about moving our bodies and coordinating this movement with breath, being silent and connecting with the natural world. It is becoming the most asked after thing we do.”
Students from St Michael’s School, Cairns, participated in Body Prayer during celebrations for Catholic Education Week 2017. After participating in the Rahamim Ecology Centre and Mercy Ministries Far North Queensland retreat “Rainforest Re-Awakening”, teacher Alison Fitzsimmons responded to the invitation of Pope Francis to ‘Care for our Common Home’ by hosting a special day of eco-spirituality for under 8’s. Here she introduced the children to the prayer ritual:
Rahamim plans to offer Body Prayer as an online course in July this year. Visit www.rahamim.org.au to keep abreast of updates.
Body Prayer Ritual
Introduction and Instruction
Messages to: Sally Neaves, Rahamim Ecology Centre