"We see Divinity as an orb or a sphere with individual religions as longitudes and denominations or branches within a given religion as latitudes. So the distinctions that divide religions are primarily on the surface (though deeply felt). But if you cut a slice out of the sphere, you move away from the divisions and draw closer to what religions have in common the Divine core," write Jane Richardson Jensen and Patricia Harris-Watkins, two chaplains of Clare's Place, a women's spirituality center in College Station, Texas. Together, they have assembled a soul-stretching interfaith resource that takes advantage of the riches and the wisdom of many religious traditions. Part One contains a seven day cycle of daily prayer with the majority of readings from the hymns of St. Ephrem, a fourth-century church father who used feminine images of God and created materials for women's choirs. Here's an example of one of the prayers:Midday Prayer
Delight of my heart, rest in my peace; nestle into my presence.
"Al-'Asma' Al-Husna, "The Beautiful Names"
"Holy One of One-Hundred Beautiful Names,
three of which are Compassion, Love and Mercy.
I acknowledge my offenses against you and your creation.
In my attempts to be holy, too often have I listened to others instead of trusting my own God-given instincts.
I have accepted distorted images of women for so long that I no longer recognize the godly goodness of my own voice.
I have tarnished the unique God-shaped image that you have so tenderly created inside
each one of us, female and male,
I confess the times I have not loved you, Creation, my neighbors, or myself.
I am rarely able to receive your all-encompassing love.
Instead of fanning the flames of your love in my midst, too often I have quenched the divine sparks.
Instead of allowing your Holy Breath to swirl around me freely sometimes
I have tried to trap the breeze in a box to be used for my own purposes.
I ask you to blow away the cobwebs of temptation and to blot out the stain of my offenses.
I pray that your light may shine through me, and I may become all you created me to be
I hope that I may reflect your Glorious Harmony in the world.
I ask this in your Beautiful Names, O God of One Hundred Names, but especially in the name of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
In the Second Part consisting of season stories and collects, Patricia Harris-Watkins has written 52 collects linked to Native American meanings of creatures, plants, and minerals in the Medicine Wheel. Anyone familiar with Jamie Sams's Medicine Cards will rejoice in these earth-cherishing prayers that vividly demonstrate the ways in which all beings can be our spiritual teachers.
Part Three contains prayers for some of the hinge moments in the lives of women, including times of giving, times of broken relationships, and times of healing. Part Four unspools a multipurpose calendar with saints, mystics, events, and gifts of creation. Here you will find listings for the 12 months of the year along with various collects celebrating colors, earthforms, celestial bodies and persons such as Harriet Tubman, Zora Neale Hurston, Rachel Carson, Helen Keller.
Part Five has rites, rituals, and services for special occasions. Even more spiritual delights follow in Part Six. This is an invaluable resource for anyone on a spiritual journey but it will resonate especially with women searching for interfaith materials to incorporate into their devotional rites and celebrations.