As you may know or have guessed, I’m deeply interested in not just prayer, 
but the idea and power of collective prayer/intention.
That is, the energy that is created when a group holds a prayer or focus together for a time.

While nothing compares to the tangible act of gathering with others in the flesh, 
there is amazing power, support and expansion within our online communities as well. 
If you had told me that a few years ago, I would’ve been like, ‘yeah, whatever.’ 
Even though it was a time in which I was also aching for a sense of connection I couldn’t put my finger on, and yet couldn’t seem to find directly around me.

But the last year and a half has changed my life and my perspective, 
and I have formed some of the most profound, inspiring, life-changing, rich relationships of my life 
with people who just *get* me (as if we always knew each other), here in this virtual landscape. 

It is an amazing time to be alive, 
and we are so blessed to live in a time with the abundance 
that allows us to explore these connections 
with people all over the world, if-when-and-how we choose.
In addition to all of that, I’ve begun to see a slow, gracious surfacing of interactions and bonding 
in my non-virtual life as well, 
just by opening myself to the possibility of new avenues toward intimacy and connection.

All of that is exactly why I’m going to begin offering an invitation to anyone interested,
once a month (at least through the rest of this year), 
to join me in the creation of an expression of [prayer] art, 
in which we all hold a similarly themed idea in heart,
while we contemplate/pray/meditate/connect with our own understanding of a Higher Power.

There’s no religion or belief system required here.
No set ritual or dogma or formula.
No required materials to do it right, or prerequisites for participation.
No way to get it wrong.
Just a place, an idea for you to explore in the safety of your own timing and space,
yet with the support and knowledge of others doing the same.

What I see around me, and within me, is that
there are so many *big* issues in the world that we are exposed to via media and our lives everyday, 
that tug at our hearts, that we share with others, 
that we feel helpless or disconnected or lonely in response to…. 
and so much power in shifting that energy 
to intentional reflection, reverence and creation, 
that can replace those more difficult feelings
with a sense of belonging, healing, ease or empowerment.

I believe these acts can cause amazing ripples in our lives 
and how we interact with others –
ripples that can become the shape of subtle kindness 
or the momentum to engage in life-shifting participation and action.
I have felt and witnessed this myself with my other Prayer Painting invitations.

I am now curious to expand this idea further by inviting others to [pray] and create [together].

So, for the month of August 2012, I invite *YOU*, 
to join me in exploring two themes that have just been sitting in my heart 
since I first began to really sit with this idea.
The two themes are
WATER
&
FORGIVENESS
If you would like to create a piece of art holding these two thoughts
~ in whatever way they may hold meaning or evoke curiosity for you in your life ~
I would be honored to have you join me in this. 
In my own process, I will be sitting with these ideas, 
and just noticing how they arise in me throughout my days,
and probably painting around the time of the new moon – 
as I seem to like to retreat to my studio for a deeper, contemplative practice around that time.
(I was going to share more about how I see the connection of these two ideas, but I’ve decided to save that and let it evolve in my own process – and also to let you feel free to explore it in any way that feels natural to your understanding, without all my input!)
I will share my prayer art here once I’ve completed it (by Aug 31)
– and there will be some ways I’ll announce along the way, in which you can share yours as well.
It will be quite moving and interesting, I suspect, to see a collection of these collective prayer creations,
but sharing is absolutely not necessary.
It’s your presence and participation in the idea, 
in your life, in your own way, 
that is most important to the experience 
and to the power of the Art of Prayer.
One of the easiest ways to share, or to view what others will share, is via the
Art of Prayer facebook group (just click here to join)
and / or the
Art of Prayer flickr group (click here for this group).
Also – just leave a quick comment below if you intend to participate,
or if you have any ideas, thoughts or questions about the theme, the process, 
or how to make the sharing and connection of this collective prayer practice more accessible or rich for others.
(Or you can always email me)
with love-n-light,
~hali

Shine On,

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