Recently, my colleague Amy came into my office. “I’d like to share a story about the boys with you, if you have time.” “Sure,” I replied, “Let’s hear it.” Amy often has great adventures with her two sons, Oliver and Charlie, and since I have daughters, I enjoy her “boy stories.”
“My husband likes to give the boys choices, which seems like a great idea, but sometimes it can backfire. The other day, Oliver got upset about having too many choices. The more I tried to calm him down, the more anxious he got. Finally, I gave him this labyrinth card and said, ‘Here. Trace this path with your finger.’ Sure enough, he began tracing the path. Slowly he began to relax. I just wanted to tell you thanks for this card. It came in handy at the moment I needed it.”
The moment I needed it. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way you could have what you need when you need it? But how do you know you need it until you need it? I don’t think Amy could have foreseen how she would use the labyrinth prayer card in quite that way, yet there it was – and it helped her and Oliver.
We have insurance policies, health insurance, spare tires, first aid kits, living wills, and birth plans. What preparation do we have for when we have a spiritual emergency?
Sometimes, it takes being in a spiritual valley before you can figure what you need in an emergency. I’m definitely in that valley right now, with hip replacement in my near (but not near enough) future. Now, I’m thinking about how to equip my spiritual toolkit for this, the next, or any emergency. Here’s what I’m packing:
- Book of Psalms. Lots of people in the Bible had problems and call to God, but for me, no one does so quite like The Psalmist. Regardless of who wrote which Psalms, the fact that King David could feel so low when he had so much going for him gives me courage and hope, no matter how bad I’m feeling.
- Smooth stones and beads. I love smooth stones; they relax me. I like to also use them to create tables, or altars. I have one on my key ring that I use to pray and meditate. Beads are beautiful, meditative, and they make cool sounds when you shake them in your hand. I love beads and always have some around.
- Pen and paper. When I’m feeling low, the computer just won’t do. I need to write the way my mother did; the way her mother did, and the way some of my ancestors could not. Writing by hand helps me feel connected.
- Music. I really need to find an old school MP3 player so I can create this Kit, like the good old days of creating a mixtape that you could put in a box. Nothing soothes like your favorite songs. I might include some songs from my childhood by Stevie Wonder and Larnelle Harris.
- The Westing Game and Snowy Day. These are my two favorite books from my childhood, and I have several copies of each. Just being near these books makes me feel better.
I asked my daughter Jaiya, age 13, what she would put in her kit. “I do things, does that count?” Of course it does – she’s a dancer; that’s how her brain works. “I go into a corner and talk it out to myself. Or, in my head, I think about the problem, and then let out a huge, loud, sigh and let it all go. Or, you could surround yourself with people you’re not always with for a different perspective.” Wow, that’s a good one, I thought.
After I shared some ideas about a spiritual toolkit, she pondered a bit more and said, “I’d put math problems in my kit. I like following each step and working the problem out.” Great insight, Jaiya!
Thinking about equipping my spiritual toolkit served to calm and reassure me that I do have what I need in an emergency. The number one item on my list is implied: my relationship with God. God is always there – listening to me, hearing me, consoling me, holding me, and breathing me back to life. With or without the kit, God is the ultimate healer. With the kit, I can use God’s gifts to help me get to where God wants me to be: at peace.
Your spiritual toolkit should be very personal to you.
What tools are in your spiritual toolkit?
Ari Wolfe says
What a great idea – thank you. I hope you don’t mind what’s ended up being a long reply…
1. I’ve been using the book, for the past year as an alternative Daily Office, and it’s really lovely! This would definitely be my first piece for the toolkit.
2. Next is a set of Anglican Prayer Beads my husband gave me for Christmas one year – or when I don’t feel I can bring them with me, I have a prayer bead bracelet that can be taken off and prayed with whenever I need a few minutes of peace, and people don’t tend to notice.
3. Music. OK, here’s my guilty pleasure: I’m still working on a play list of songs, but first & foremost: the soundtrack to Godspell. It was my introduction to the Gospels when I was young and a few of the songs are soothing as prayers for me.
4. Walking labyrinths wherever I can find them… I also actually found a finger labyrinth app for my phone & couldn’t resist (though I prefer anything that’s not electronic as a first choice – especially for relaxation).
5. Knitting. If I was to put together a physical toolkit, a small basket with knitting needles & yarn would have to be included.
Would you mind sending me a labyrinth card too if you have any left?
Ari Wolfe says
The book name didn’t print, due to my formatting I think – it’s Daily Prayer for All Seasons.
Evelyn C Miller says
How do I obtain a Labyrinth card?
Hello! Please email your address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be sure you receive a few.
Nurya Love Parish says
The daily office. I do miss days, but man do I feel better when I don’t. Music. Praying friends available through group text.
I love the idea of thinking through and being prepared with an emergency spiritual toolkit. Thank you.
William Sembello says
The fitst tool in kit. Is the daily office. I havent missed a day in two years and i feel so much better.