Creating a Toolbox for Prayer

Posted by Kacie Emmerson

May 21, 2022

Window Gazing on Travel – A Spiritual Delight

By Florina Joseph, SCN

Part of the Toolbox for Prayer series

Download in PDF format

“I sat by the window gazing
Waiting for grace to bestow
The numerous forms of knowing
The mysteries God shows”

Imagine, you are traveling window seat on a journey, with music in your ears accompanied by a pleasant weather. Wouldn’t it be amazing! While for some people, Window Gazing might be a leisurely act, for me, it’s a spiritual new terrain where one can learn to connect with the unknown, other than connecting to oneself, discover a profound sense of peace, joy, and appreciation, especially when on a journey. ‘Window Gazing on Travel’ emerged as a free form of prayer for me ever since I was introduced to contemplative Spirituality within the SCN Congregation.

I often wonder, why it is one of my favorites among the many forms of prayer! I guess, maybe because I discover God’s presence in the far limits of my vision, or maybe it enkindles the missionary zeal to ‘be out there’ among God’s people, or maybe it gives flesh to passive dreams and desires within me seeking to venture out into the unknown, or maybe just to realize that I’m part of a bigger world.

I recall those long train journeys I had with my family during our summer vacations, my sisters and I always tussled for the window seat as if it was the most treasured part of the journey, in that case, any vehicle would have to narrate the same story of our journeys. 

There is something mystical about Window Gazing on a journey. Running trees and moving vehicles, small tents standing between tall buildings, the wavering colors of the garments of people and the smell of flavors from the roadside restaurants, busy streets and green fields, the beauty of daylight and the romance of twilight, the lanterns of the village and the treat of city lights. Although so poetic, the view never stops.

As I keep watching, a child-like amusement comes alive. There is a wonder of the constant newness that keeps exciting and if accompanied by music the experience is beyond words. Emerging out of my little world, within four walls, to a whole new world where I feel a connectedness and become that which I see. I’m that little girl who dances her way back home. I’m that old man who smokes out his worries into the open. I’m that small rat who rushes through the rails of the track. I’m that construction worker who carries loads of cement on his back. I’m that beggar lying on the road making the traveler feel ashamed of their riches. I’m that flower waiting to be noticed among her companions. I’m that scarecrow who wants to dance on the fields. I’m that father who bids his daughter a teary goodbye. I’m the drunkard on the street who cries her heart out. I’m that person who just met with an accident and lost his life. I’m a company to his grieving family consoling them. I’m the aesthetic Sun which is setting. I’m that infinity of clouds that I believed to be heaven at a young age. I’m that bird who enjoys the freedom of my spirit. And I keep becoming all, within a flash of seconds, just through my window seat.

I threw my heart out at all the places I saw, Some are poetic, the mystic fields lying near mountains, While some, plaintive like a simple small-town market, In them, my heart reached out unbiased… (By Parivallal Swamy)

As I travel through the many shoes I wear by way of my eyes and heart. I am intervened by feelings, thoughts, questions, inspirations, disturbances and of course flashbacks. Slowly, the gap between the reality around and the reality within me bridges up. Sometimes the restlessness of the unpleasant grows, yet, the comfort and reassurance of the gentle breeze that caresses my face, makes me flee from the narrowness of my circumstances to engage myself in becoming part of the larger terrene as I face the real world through my senses. It is chaos accompanied by silence, a mixture of my favorite kind, to a state of fewer borders and wider possibilities. And then I wonder, who other than God could be responsible for this transformation?

“Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders, wherever you would call me”

I see faces different than mine contemplating their own contemplations undisturbed, in my company of strangers. Scenes that appear out of the blue on the bus, train, flight, or street are just very similar to incidents in our lives. I feel all you have to do is, just sit, embrace the moment and it’s all yours. This privilege that Jesus didn’t have, which he might envy (just kidding) is a prayer of my free spirit. My mom once said, “It is good to have the company of the rosary during travels.” Ever since then, the beads of the Rosary have been my starters for the travel and it adds to the experience with my spiritual neighbours.

The blessing of Window Gazing is that the traveler always has a fresh and unique experience on a daily basis. It is not much about the destination it is more about the journey. How much meaning one finds in it and how one allows the experience to penetrate one’s being. A window seat may not always be your luck but the journey will mostly be a divine experience.

All these places that caught my attention, Every single one of them has become my home, All these people who live their simple life, Have become my neighbours, in my spirit…. Whether these places are as gifted as I perceive, And my spiritual neighbours enjoy their routine? I simply cannot answer for them, I’m just a window gazer, As long as I’m on travel, I recognize the world I see as I want it to be, a perfect place … (By Parivallal Swamy) 

Questions for reflection:

Can I recall a scene that still remains in my heart while I was Window Gazing? What does it speak to me of?

Have I encountered situations of chaos accompanied by an inner silence?

Florina Joseph, SCN is a junior Sister, currently
pursuing a bachelor’s degree

Want to read more from the Toolbox for Prayer series? Click the links below.

The Legacy of Mother Catherine Spalding

Catherine believed that God is truly present everywhere – in each person, in each circumstance of life she encountered. Through prayer and reflection she would discern, what is the loving thing to do here, right now? Then with confidence and faith she would daringly utilize all the various means at her disposal to accomplish the task that was before her and always with a gentle spirit and a loving heart.

The Rhythm of Contemplation

Rhythm is known as the repeated patterns of movement or sound while contemplation is known as deep reflective thoughts that form who we are as a person. We each have a rhythm of life and how we contemplate. The rhythm of who we are flows out of us every day. As I stop to contemplate, I have come to realize that my way of contemplation is a rhythm of loving.

Feast day of St Louise De Marillac

Sisters in Pittsburgh, along with Caritas Support Services staff and a few VCS employees who work at St Louise Convent, gathered for a festive meal after the 11 AM mass held at the Sacred Heart Chapel on the May 9th feast day of St Louise De Marillac.

Letting Scripture Speak

Lectio Divina is a special kind of Scripture prayer. The term means a “holy reading” or “a prayerful reading” of Scripture. It is a process of praying with Scripture in a way that invites us to be more open to hear a personal and meaningful message from within the passage. This kind of prayer also leads us to a contemplative stance in our prayer with Scripture.

In this article you will find the four basic steps of Lectio Divina: READ, MEDITATE, PRAY, CONTEMPLATE. I will attempt to explain these steps in a practical way. My hope is that this process will help us to pray with the Scriptures in a richer way. This reflection is meant to aid us in understanding and following the spirit of each step and also to help us to become more open to God’s word within the Scripture passage you select.

Creating a Toolbox for Prayer

As an Indian Christian Religious, the two wings of my prayer life are Biblical and Indian Spirituality. At home, we had everyday family prayer which included Rosary and reading from the Bible. I was responsible to conduct it. It was a vocal prayer that did not touch my heart though there was devotion to do it. After coming to the Congregation too, prayer was mostly a recitation of psalms and singing of songs. Though I was faithful to it there was not much impact on my life. Prayer was like an activity I had to do but I did not enjoy it or experience anything in my heart.

See No Stranger

This Toolbox for Prayer post is a video from Sister Chris Kunze. Sister Chris encourages us all to let our light shine and “see no stranger”. We must look beyond ones outward appearance, and instead see them as a sister or brother that we do not yet know. This allows us to open ourselves up to the possibility of connection, let go of the impulse to view others as different, and enables us to pay attention to others stories.

Praying with Catherine Spalding: From the Known to the Unknown

What seems like a lifetime ago, during a third grade social studies activity about daily life for the Kentucky pioneers, I vividly remember taking turns churning
butter and pouring melted tallow into iron candle molds. I was fascinated by all they embarked upon on their journey. From an eight-year-old’s perspective, their
lives seemed unbelievably difficult – fraught with obstacles to daily survival, uncertainties about the future, and risk. I could not understand why someone
would choose this path; however, I admired the passion, grit, ingenuity and faith in God required to cross from the known into the unknown. All that I learned back then took on its own shape in my active 8-year-old imagination and I believe those early images of the pioneers awakened in me a curiosity and awe about acting on a dream. What was it like to be so strongly drawn to move into the unknown – willing to risk it all in the name of hope? I was captured by this pioneer spirit. As I grew older, my understanding became more informed, less imaginary and more inclusive of the various impacts of this westward movement. Today, it continues to be expanded as we search to recognize the full story of that era and our place in it – good or bad. We still have so much to learn. However, for this reflection, I will focus on the part that captured my interest as a child – spirit, passion and resilience.

Creating a Toolbox for Prayer

Vipassana means “to see things as they really are.” It is one of India’s most ancient meditation techniques rediscovered 2500 years ago by Gotama the Buddha, and is the essence of what he practiced and taught.

What Leads me to God?

A quick and easy answer to this all important question, “What leads me to God?” might be, “Everything!” That answer bears much truth in it. Plunging more deeply, however, reveals places and happenings, situations and persons who bring God front and center into my life. It could be a beautiful tree, an imposing mountain, a peaceful, winding river, the discovery of a poem, a passage from Scripture, being alert and finding God wherever the divine may be waiting for me. Places would be where Eucharist dwells and where I sit to pray. The places where I find the beauties of nature bring God right to me. A fragile flower, a singing bird, a lovely cloud call out the Creator’s name.

Dance as Prayer

Dance was always a part of my life growing up. I am from German heritage so polkas, along with the chicken dance, conga lines, the hokey pokey were a big part of our family celebrations. Our joy and enjoyment was expressed with our whole being – mind, heart and body. I loved it!

But, I never thought of dance as prayer until the novitiate. Our novice director, Sister Mary Pauletta, had a Sister friend from another community who visited her when I was a first-year novice. This was in the post Vatican II days when lots of new ideas were emerging. The Sister friend introduced us to liturgical dance. She choreographed several dances to psalm songs and many of us participated. Though her name is long lost in my memory, I will never forget the gift she gave me by introducing body as well as mind and heart to my way of praying. I loved it!


  1. Liz Wendeln

    Wondrous-thank you for allowing me to sit next to you at the window !!!!

  2. Ann Palatty

    Yes, Florida, window gazing is something I too like a lot. The world becomes alive as you watch the trees and woods dance past you.


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