Prayer in six directions: A prayer in the Celtic tradition

This prayer draws on the Celtic tradition of the caim, or encircling, prayer that may be familiar in the blessing of St. Patrick.

Photo by Yan Ming on Unsplash

This prayer is adapted from one used by the Corrymeela Community in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland and another by Grace Clunie of Armagh, Northern Ireland. It draws on the Celtic tradition of the caim, or encircling, prayer that may be familiar in the blessing of St. Patrick. It also bears resemblance to the Native American “Blessing to the Four Directions.”

The “Prayer In Six Directions” is an embodied prayer, and ideally, it would be done outdoors. Participants will stand, turning in a different direction with each section of the prayer. The leader may wish to allow a moment of silence for reflection before the corporate response in each section.

One: Let us face the EAST where the sun rises each day. As you do, reflect on anything that is new or emerging in your life.

All: God, our Creator, we thank you for the gift of our lives, and your mercies that are new every morning. We thank you for the hope of new opportunities and the grace of new beginnings.

One: Let us face the SOUTH where the sun shines strongest* and which symbolizes summer and warmth. Reflect on the people, events, and things that warm your life or help you grow.

All: Christ, our Redeemer, we praise you for your light which shines brighter than the sun. We give thanks for those who shine your light in the world, who warm our hearts with their love, and who help us to grow into the people you created us to be.

One: Let us face WEST where the sun sets each evening. As you do, consider anything that is coming to a close in your life.

All: Holy Spirit, our Sustainer, we thank you for your constant presence even amid life’s endings and closures. Help us see beauty in these sunsets and to trust you for the future.

One: Let us face NORTH where the sun’s light can be scarce and winters are cold. Reflect on challenges or difficulties you face in your life, past or present.

All: Holy Spirit, our Comforter, we thank you for your love that encircles us when life is marked by difficulty or despair. Hold us in our sorrow, and restore in us the joy of your salvation.

One: Let us now reach down and touch the GROUND. Let us think of the earth on which we live, the ancestors from which we come, and all that sustains our lives.

All: Christ, our brother, we praise you who, in humility, shared our human condition. We thank you for the earth we call home, the forebears who give us our history, and daily provision of sustenance for body, mind, and spirit.

One: Now let us reach toward the SKY, reflecting on our hopes and dreams and the mystery of faith.

All: Triune God, Holy Mystery, we praise you in wonder and love. Help us to dream new dreams and envision a world marked by your justice, peace, and love.

As this prayer comes from Ireland, it is geared toward those living in the northern hemisphere; it could be adapted for the southern hemisphere by switching the prompts for north and south.