Palms Up, Palms Down

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

One of the new activities that has given me the most joy during these days of social isolation is the NUCC Zoom Prayer Gathering that I have been a part of leading. A group of people gather via Zoom every week to share the things we are learning about ourselves, our world, and our faith in these chaotic times. We always share in a spiritual practice and today, we will be practicing an exercise that is simply called Palms Up, Palms Down.

Many of you know that I went to a Quaker seminary – Earlham School of Religion. There, I learned about many spiritual practices, but it was my first experience with the concept of centering down by using this exercise. Many Quaker worship services allot a long time for this which often leads to a time of silence, to enter into God’s re-creating silence, to let go of all the fragments of thoughts that seem to bombard us throughout our days.

This simple exercise begins with us taking some time for quiet, then placing our hands, palms facing down on our legs. It is a symbolic way of handing over our concerns to God. We can name all the worries, anxieties, or concerns we are carrying. It is here that we are honest, offering all those things that may need relief or release, as we surrender them to the love of care of God. After some time, we place our palms up, the backs of our hands gently resting on our legs. We invite God to bring peace, courage, love, or direction to our lives and the lives of those who are on our minds. In the quiet, we rest in the divine exchange, receiving fresh peace and power in place of our worries and concerns. We may even sense a particular word, impression, or direction. And then, quietly, simply we rest in God’s love for a time, giving thanks for God’s presence.

In the quiet, we rest in this divine exchange, receiving fresh peace, presence, and power in place of our natural concerns and requests. As we finish, we may experience and deeper peace that follows us throughout our days (inspiration for this prayer tool comes from Richard Foster’s book, “Celebration of Discipline”).

Rev. Dr. Deb Kaiser-Cross
Minister for Congregational Care

For those who are beset by worry, anxiety, or depression in these days: O Lord, we pray that amid the world’s chaos, we might find peace. When our minds are overwhelmed with what we see, we come to you to find hope. When our hearts are heavy with fear, with worry, with sorrow, we come to this place to find your strength. As we long for the day that we will see healing in a world that is torn apart, we come to find you. Come, Holy Spirit, be with us this day.
(Adapted from a prayer by Rev. Nora Vedress, Calvary United Church in Prince Alber, Saskatchewan, Canada)