Ceremony Bowl

Holding the empty bowl

Words and music by Sarah Pirtle, © 2009 Discovery Center Music, BMI


1. What fills this bowl, what fills this bowl
Comes from a cherished place.
And silence, awe, and mystery
Are welcomed in this space.
And so I bring a prayer to you
Of waiting, hope and grace,
For emptiness of fertile fields
Invites us to embrace.


I hold this bowl. I hold this bowl.
I hold this bowl. I hold this bowl.


2. We greet the season of our souls,
a season of surprise.
For we are like a garden bed
Awaiting to arise.
And we are like a sounding bowl that listens faithfully
And in the silence of the earth awakes to mystery.


I hold this bowl. I hold this bowl.
I hold this bowl. I hold this bowl.

Production: Engineered by Scott Sibley, Rainbow Sounds Studio. Harmony vocals by Sue Kranz.

The Story of the Song

Rev. Jacob Watson founded the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine https://www.chimeofmaine.org. Each year before ordination he carefully prepares a wooden bowl swirled with wood grain for each person being ordained. He burnishes the bowls, carves the names and date on the bottom, prays over them, and then presents them at the ceremony.

ChIME in Portland, Maine is the school where I studied to become an Interfaith Minister and Peace Chaplain. I use the bowl that he presented during workshops of the Work That Reconnects.

My second year of studies, Rev. Helen Rankin, teacher of our ordination class, brought her own ordination bowl to the opening ceremony and offered the thought that we were like empty bowls open to the what the year would bring. I created this song for that moment in 2008. Each member of the class took a turn holding the bowl and passed it as the song was sung.

Workshop suggestion: Pass a bowl at the start. Suggest that it represents open possibilities. Give each person a chance to hold it and experience the feeling of waiting with emptiness for what is to come.