Recently a child in Grace’s Religious Education class lost both his parents; his mother to cancer this summer and his father to a heart attack last month. He is an only child and my heart breaks for him. I had the pleasure of having him in class for both 3rd and 5th grades and through this and our close church community, knew his family well.
Grace’s Religious Ed teacher asked me if I had any ideas for something the class could do to share their sympathy with this child and give him a gift of prayer. After about two minutes of thought, I realized that in this instance, art journaling could provide some art therapy, not only for the child who would be the recipient of they prayers and pages, but also for the children creating the pages who empathize even though they cannot understand the monumental loss their friend has experienced.
To make this book, I took the prayer St. Patrick’s Shield and broke it into 10 pieces, one for every child in the class. I wrote down each part of the prayer on numbered index cards. Each child took a card and began their page.
I offered a sample of a dove carrying an olive branch as a model but some children chose to do a simple cross. They each wrote their piece of the prayer on the page. I gathered the pages, sealed them with Modge Podge and added a personal note from the teacher as the back page. They were given to the teacher Sunday to be bound into a book.
This project is a beautiful keepsake for a boy who is grieving. Perhaps knowing that his classmates and friends prayed over these pages will give him just a small moment of joy. Perhaps when he flips through the book over time we will understand the power of the words. Perhaps he will feel the love and support he has from all who know him.
I pray he does.
As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me,
the word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.