From knitting to walking, people are finding ways to improve their spiritual lives

Do you play Wordle? More and more people are doing it. For many, it has become a daily ritual, a few minutes’ respite from this pandemic life.

When believers think of rituals, they tend to think of things like prayer, pilgrimage, reading religious texts. But other repeated activities can also improve the spiritual life.

Seeing the popularity of Wordle made me wonder what other rituals people engage in to help them through this difficult time. I asked this question on Facebook and got many answers.

Knitting came back several times.

??Knitting is my meditation,?? said Kathie Gillis. ?? I do it several times a day. I weave intention into each stitch. If it’s a gift for someone, each point has a mantra for them, like a prayer. From a pandemic perspective, it allows me to stay connected to the recipient, while feeling productive outside of my job.??

At the same time, “the repetitive movement keeps me in constant meditation, which also allows the freedom to keep the person in my thoughts and to send blessings, healing intentions, abundance, merit”, ? she said.

Susan Warkentin added: ?? I love knitting very simple patterns and have started knitting prayer shawls for people who are going through difficulties. It gives me purpose while giving me time to reflect and pray for the person I’m knitting the shawl for. ??

Walking was also popular.

??My husband and I pray as we walk, and since often in the park it is beautiful and quiet,?? said Val Pierce, adding that during their walks they pray for family, friends and the world.

“We are praying for the divisions that are now taking deeper root, for our leaders, people who are especially stressed at this time.” she said.

For Haide Wall Giesbrecht, walking in nature is a way to recharge one’s batteries.

??I find that my spiritual well-being and my emotional well-being improve when I am in nature,?? she said. “I see the beauty of God and marvel at creation through the lens of my camera. Honestly, it saved sanity. ?

Before the pandemic, Patricia Paddey commuted to work. Now she works from home, like many others. For exercise and calm, she likes to walk.

“Walking helps purge stress at the end of the day, wake me up early in the day, and get me away from my desk for a new perspective in the middle of the day, ? ” she said.

??In terms of affecting me spiritually, I would say that I strongly believe that we are created body, soul and spirit ?? the whole package. So if we work to keep the body healthy, the mind and spirit will benefit. Being out in nature calms my mind and allows me to notice God’s work in a meaningful way. Walking helps me deal with the things that need to be dealt with. ?

For Rob Robotham, walking gives time to pray. ??I realize that I need God more than ever and that prayer is really important,?? he said. ?? I feel very grounded after doing this.?

Some people, like Laura Marie Piotrowicz, combine puzzles with prayer.

??I do intentional prayer over puzzles,?? she said, adding “with the intensity of the news and the uncertainties in the world at large, I’ve used puzzles as a way to filter out some of the noise.”

When she does what she calls? she turns off her phone, lights a candle, reads an opening prayer and a passage of scripture, usually from the daily lectionary.

?? I then think about this scripture as I do the puzzle,?? she said. ?? The puzzle itself is almost like a fidget device, using the part of my brain that is stimulated and over-stimulated by the bustle of the world, while leaving the more contemplative part of my brain space and grace, to deepen the prayer.??

After a while ?? Doesn’t she put a timer?? Piotrowicz gently steps out of the meditative space with a closing prayer.

Doug Koop uses crossword puzzles to deal with everyday stress.

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They are, he says, a form of distraction or withdrawal from the cares of the moment…they offer a ready retreat from everyday stress. The hobby calms my mind, focuses my intellect on an abstract issue while another part of my mind floats, my emotions settle, and I take a better perspective on the hustle and bustle of the day. Escape? May be. Uplifting? Often.??

Jerrad Peters and Nicolas Greco participated in a daily online mass during the pandemic.

??It put me in touch with an imaginary community of faith,?? Greco said, all gathering together to watch the same thing. He has been consistent in this turbulent time.

Other things that came up were baking, music, journaling, centered prayer, reading, morning prayers.

As for me, it was daily walking all year round and cycling from spring to fall that got me through the pandemic. What rituals help you?

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John Longhurst
faith reporter

John Longhurst has been writing for the Winnipeg Faith Pages since 2003. He also writes for the Religion News Service in the US and blogs about media, marketing and communications at Making the News.

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