Confession: I have a serious addiction to Pinterest
For those who don’t know, Pinterest can be described as an online dream or inspiration board. Just as when you used to go through the Sears Wishbook and cut out or mark all the things you wanted, Pinterest helps you collect these images from across the Internet.
Pinterest can be useful to find recipes, hairstyles, comics, gardening tips, design inspiration, etc., and the pins (the things you save) are organized on “boards.” One board in particular provides inspiration for me. My biblical quotations board has become part of my prayer life.
I noted a trend toward biblical quotations on Pinterest about four years ago. Inspirational quotes can be found set against beautiful backgrounds, like drawings, photos, and interesting designs. The biblical scholar in me was fascinated. I started researching the quotations I found. Sometimes the verse was complete, other times, a paraphrase. Sometimes the quotation was incorrectly cited and other times I couldn’t find it at all.
Slowly, curiosity gave way to spiritual needs. I no longer searched for the backgrounds behind the verses. Instead, I started using these quotations to shape my prayers. Some days the quotations brought a surprising twist to a problem I was having. Some days they brought a smile, and my prayers of gratitude and thanksgiving were easy and joyful. Some days they made me angry. But on most days the quotations were uplifting.
Some of the most meaningful quotations for me include the first verse from Psalm 91:11: “For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.” The second quote is a paraphrase of Hebrews 6:15: “And so it was . . . that she, having waited long and endured patiently, realized and obtained what God had promised.” The third quote is another paraphrase: “Tears are prayers too. They travel to God when we can’t speak” (Psalm 56). The final is my most pinned quote: Isaiah 43:2: “When you go through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”
My spiritual journey in these last few years has been linked to my cancer, and my need for God’s protection. My prayers are linked to the spiritual fears of others, and others’ need for comfort and protection during their time of need.
When others share quotations by pinning, it creates an online community. These people are my angels, protecting me, welcoming me, loving me, suffering with me, being comforted with me. They are strangers, but they are part of my prayers. They reveal the presence of God among us, and show me every day that God sends us messages through the eyes and actions of other people.
Pomazon is assistant professor in the Department of Religion and Culture at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon.