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Praying with Our Hands: 21 Practices of Embodied Prayer from the World's Spiritual Traditions 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
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 bookAthat prayer happens in our bodies, not just in our minds or on our lipsAis 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 positionAand get praying. (Jan.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
This is a kind of picture-book for the spiritually inclined but no less valuable for that. A host of beautiful photographs highlights many attitudes of worship and prayerfulnessDthe mudra, the breaking of bread, the passing of the peace, touching iconsDall with the simple but persuasive goal of bringing worship and prayer into the body. As the final chapter states: "Embodied prayer is an expression of who we really are." The photographs alone are worth the price of admission, and the graceful texts and reflections surrounding them make this little volume doubly worthwhile. Highly recommended.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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While the book occasionally notes its oversimplification, I am not comfortable with balance it achieves. It is, however, an excellent way to introduce the concept of physicality in prayer. It's photos and text firmly place physical prayer into the mainstream of religious practice and firmly negate any "new age" or "new fangled" charges leveled against it.
I found it very moving--and motivating--to look anew at my spiritual life.