Praying with Our Hands: Twenty-One Practices of Embodied Prayer from the World's Spiritual Traditions

Jon M. Sweeney, Author, Jennifer Wilson, Photographer, Mother Tessa Bielecki, Foreword by Skylight Paths Publishing $16.95 (80p) ISBN 978-1-893361-16-4
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel spoke of praying with his feet during civil rights marches. Sweeney (Who Is My God?) agrees that we don't pray just with words, but with our bodies, particularly our hands. In this brief, meditative book, short essays and stunning black-and-white photographs show off nearly two dozen prayers people perform with their hands. The Shakers knew that handiwork was prayer (photographer Jennifer Wilson provides a shot of gnarled hands weaving a basket). Jewish women light two candles to welcome in the Sabbath, while many Christians receive the Eucharist with their hands. Other images depict worshipers clasping hands before saying table grace or ""laying on hands"" during prayers for healing. Sweeney shows that we use our hands to break bread (whether at the communion table or the picnic table), touch icons, count prayers on rosaries or wash one another's feet. With hands we make the sign of the cross, sprinkle holy water, pass the peace and hold hands. The message of this book--that prayer happens in our bodies, not just in our minds or on our lips--is instructive. But more than instructive, the book is inspiring. It will make readers want to roll out their prayer mats, kneel or twist into the lotus position--and get praying. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/08/2000
Release date: 11/01/2000
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