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Unitarian Universalist Prayer Beads

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There are several varieties of Unitarian Universalist prayer beads. I have already described Erik Walker Wikstrom's arrangement on my prayer beads page, and you can read more in his book Simply Pray.

Another type is described in an article by Jude Henzy in the June 1999 issue of “UU & Me”. Here is an abstract of the article. It is a children's bracelet of four beads, called Thankful, Hopeful, Improve and Sorry, which spells the mnemonic word THIS. Children are to meditate on what they are thankful for, what they are hopeful about, what they want to improve, and what they are sorry for.

In a sermon presented at the Ohio Valley UU Congregation on October 1, 2000, James Casebolt suggested that the beads be separated by groups of seven beads in rainbow colors, used to meditate on the Seven Principles. Casebolt also wryly commented that Religious Education teachers had quickly discovered that the four letters could be rearranged into a less uplifting word, and suggested using instead the made-up word GISH, to represent Grateful, Improve, Sorry and Hopeful. He pointed out that the prayers now end on Hopeful, which feels more positive.

I have seen a similar, more Christian-sounding mnemonic that is built upon the word ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. The use of this acronym is so widespread that I have not been able to find a source for it; whatever its original source may be, it has passed into folklore. Though the language may not the kind we use in UU churches much, we can still participate in these four kinds of prayer or meditation. These correspond roughly to Rev. Wikstrom's four types of prayer: Naming, Knowing, Listening and Loving.

And if you haven't yet, please see my Joys and Concerns Rosary

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copyright 2004 by Karen Deal Robinson

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