In 2000, Joyce Rupp, a member of the Servite (servants of Mary) community and codirector of the Institute of Compassionate Presence, gathered her prayers together in Out of the Ordinary. Prayer Seeds is the follow-up volume with more than 100 never-before-published prayers.
In the introduction to this paperback, Rupp recalls how seeds fascinated her when she lived on a farm in northwest Iowa. Like Thomas Berry who stated that "to plant a seed / is to activate the deepest Mysteries of the Universe," the author harvests meanings from these harbingers of new life.
Among the many riches you will find here are selections on the feasts and seasons of the liturgical year, celebrations, difficult times, grief and loss, marriage, Mary, ministry, New Year, and transitions. These often creatively use imagery. For example, in her celebration for the "Anniversary of Ordination," Rupp quotes Patrick McCormick:
"Jesus was a big toucher,
The New Testament has fourteen accounts
of him reaching out to touch another person,
often with healing, always with compassion."
The rest of this ritual acknowledges hands and concludes with this prayer:
"May you go forward this day with faith knowing your hard work and endless efforts have enriched and helped those you serve. Each time you look at your hands may you find a reason to hope, remembering all the good they have done. May the blessing of the Holy One enfold your life with our gratitude and respect. Amen."
We have long been fond of Joyce Rupp's devotional works and have used her The Cup of Our Life and Fragments of Your Ancient Name for our personal meditations. We expect to use her prayer for Pentecost, as we are drawn to these words:
"Spirit, Wild One,
breathe large gusts in me,
sweep through my being,
drench me with hope,
soften my resistance."
As we and our friends age, we can see how helpful her ritual for "Moving to a Nursing Home" will be. It revolves around the blessing of a prayer shawl after placing it around the future nursing home resident:
"May you be wrapped in the tender presence of God, who holds you close as you enter this passage of your life.
"May you be wrapped in the quiet serenity of God when you are weary and sleepiness overtakes your desire to be more active. . . .
"May you be wrapped in the compassion of God when you experience thoughts and feelings that bring a sense of loss and sadness.
"May you be wrapped in the strength of God, who will uphold you when you experience your physical limitations.
"May you be wrapped in the love of god, who knows the difficulties and challenges of this important transition."
The section on grief and loss is very strong. It includes a ritual for "Closing of the Casket," a ritual for "Distribution of Cremains," a ritual with a bowl "For One Who Grieves," a prayer "In a Time of Grief," and a "Tree Memorial in Honor of the Deceased."
This is a resource to treasure and to share widely.