Northumberland, where we live, is steeped in ancient history, covered with breath-taking scenery and full of friendly people. In the 7th century, the Celtic saints from the Scottish island of Iona came and settled on the Northumberland island of Lindisfarne. It was from there, often called Holy Island, that Christianity spread to most of England and to several countries in Europe. People still come to Holy Island and to walk the pilgrim pathways of the north-east of England. We make our prayer beads as an aid for those who are seeking meaning in life today.
OK. I had better explain a bit more. The fish emblem, on the prayer beads, is the ancient symbol of Christianity – the Ichthus. The large natural pale wood bead , next to the Fish, is the Preparation bead. There are 33 beads, one for each year of Jesus’ life. The four Cruciform beads, the natural pale barrel ones, help us recall that Jesus died on the Cross for the sins of the world. The four sets of seven small green beads are called Seasons . Seven beads to remind the user that God created all things, and on the seventh day he rested and was pleased with his work. There are Four sets of Seasons, to represent God’s continued work today, in spring, summer, autumn and winter. Through the good times and the bad.
The prayer beads have no “magical” properties. They are just a simple tool to assist in prayer and to help the user feel close to God. Quite a few people just carry them around, so they can silently hold them when they cannot find words to pray.
Using prayer beads for Prayer is a two way process of talking and listening to God. Slowly moving from bead to bead, saying a few words and stopping to move on, establishes a rhythm of speech and silence; talking and listening.
We always start with the Fish pointing away from us and holding it between first finger and thumb, saying the words: “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
When you arrive on the Preparation bead , use the words:“In the shelter of your wings, I will sing your praises, O Lord
(You can change this phrase if you prefer a different one).
You then move on to the first Cruciform bead. All Cruciform beads are for rest and silence. Just rest silently on them for at least ten seconds. You can use the 4 sets of Seasons to split up larger prayers into seven smaller sections, or to repeat small prayers, over and over again. You leave via the Preparation bead and the Fish.
I make these Pilgrimpath prayer beads for personal friends and acquaintances complete with suggested prayers. If you would like to own a set of prayer beads you can buy some slightly different ones, which I also make, from the new monastic Community which we are part of. (see below).