The Shalom Full Body Prayer

Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace, but it means much more than the English word. Shalom also means health, wholeness, completeness, soundness. “Paz” is the Spanish word for peace.

Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace, but it means much more than the English word.  Shalom also means health, wholeness, completeness, soundness. “Paz” is the Spanish word for peace.  “Pya’guazú” [you can pronounce it as if it were Spanish, but the sounds like uh but is pronounced in the back of the throat] is the Guaraní word for peace.  The Guaraní are the indigenous people of Paraguay.  The meaning of the word is “tranquil stomach.”  The first place we feel a lack of peace is in our stomachs.  It also has a meaning accompanied by justice because when all the people in the community are well-fed so that everyone has a tranquil stomach, there is true peace.

We’re all called to go out and share with others the peace that God is bringing into our lives.  We recognize that this peace is not an easy peace.  It comes with justice, truth, and mercy.  It is a full peace with the sharing of power not like the Pax Romana which was peaceful for the Romans but certainly not for the peoples they conquered! Whenever we do this prayer, we do it in a circle to remind us God has no beginning or end, and we are all on the same level when it comes to building peace.
Gather in a circle.  Hold out your left hand, put your right hand on top of the next person’s left hand.  Feel the sensations of holding the different hands.  One hand may be warmer, the other colder, one may be thinner, the other thicker.  Notice that you are offering support to someone else, but that you are also receiving support from another.  This symbolizes the fact that to build shalom, sometimes, in humility, we offer our gifts and sustain others, and other times we are the ones who are receiving from others and being sustained.  This is the way we do mission work around the world in the United Church of Christ.
[As the group is gathered in the circle, one person may pray aloud, and then the Full Body Prayer may be used with the following instructions.]
Hold out your right hand while you say Paz.  Then hold out your left hand while you say Peace.  As you bring both hands toward your mouth, say Pya’guazú.

In silence, raise both hands and say to yourself, “I commit to healing my relationship with God.”  Place your hands on your heart and say to yourself, “I commit to healing my relationship with myself.”  Put your left hand on the shoulder of the next person and say to yourself, “I commit to healing my relationship with others.”  Take one step forward and say to yourself, “I commit to healing my relationship with the earth.”  Then, because God doesn’t call us to close our circles, but to reach out and bring others in:   Turn around to face out of the circle and count in your head, “One, two, three.  Then shout, “Shalom.”  When we shout “Shalom” at the Shalom Center in Chile, the Andes Mountains echo back to us.  We probably can’t shout loudly enough here for the Andes Mountains to echo back, but we can shout loud enough to remind ourselves that we are the ones to carry peace into the world.
Simplified instructions to use after the above explanations have been given:
Gather in a circle.  Hold out your left hand and put your right hand on top of the next person’s left hand and feel the different sensations.  Drop your hands as one person prays aloud.
Hold out your right hand as you say Paz.  Hold out your left hand as you say Peace.  Hold both hands to your mouth as you say Pya’guazú.   
(In silence, raise both hands and say to yourself) I commit to healing my relationship with God, (with both hands on your heart say to yourself) I commit to healing my relationship with myself, (put your left hand on the shoulder of the person next to you and say to yourself) I commit to healing my relationship with others, (take one step forward and say to yourself) I commit to healing my relationship with the earth.   Then turn around to face out of the circle and count in your head “One, two, three” and then shout Shalom.