Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Labyrinth As Prayer

This week at CWM, we looked at labyrinths as spiritual tools. The following is from two websites on labyrinths: The Labyrinth Society and Sunday School Lessons. We hope you will take time this week to use a labyrinth in your own prayer and meditation.

Labyrinths are ancient human symbols known to go back at least 3500 years and probably much older. A labyrinth is not a maze, but a walking meditation device with a single winding path from the edge to the center. There are no tricks, choices or dead ends in a labyrinth walk. The same path is used to return to the outside. The labyrinth symbol was incorporated into the floors of the great Gothic pilgrimage cathedrals of France in the twelfth & thirteenth centuries.

Following a labyrinth is a right brain activity (creative, intuitive, imaginative), and can induce or enhance a contemplative or meditative state of mind. It is a tool which can clear the mind, calm our anxieties during periods of transition and stress, guide healing, deepen self-knowledge, enhance creativity, allow for reconciliation, restore feelings of belonging to a community, and lead to personal and spiritual growth.

There are three movements to the labyrinth, and you are free to make of them whatever you like: moving inward, centering, and moving outward. You might want to select one from each movement and try it, or create your own rhythm to each of the movements. Using all the suggestions at once is overwhelming.

Moving Inward: A time to cast off, discard, divest, unwrap, forget

  • Discard our many roles (parent, partner, sister, brother, student, accountant, teacher, pastor) and simply say “I am.”
  • Leave the noise, demands, voices around us, and enter a soothing silence.
  • Unload our guilt, resentment, self-hatred, failures, depression, shame, & forgive ourselves.
  • Leave the familiar world of day-to-day living for a different experience.
  • Choose to ignore all our ideas about God and theology, and return to the beginning of our faith.
  • Reject the anxious desire to get the most out of the labyrinth, simply becoming open and expectant.

Centering: A time to be open, expectant, empty, and receptive

  • Take the risk of recognizing an emptiness within ourselves that only love can fill.
  • Enjoy the silence, stillness, waiting, and the simplicity of nothing happening.
  • Take time to listen to an inner voice or to nothing or to mystery.
  • Contemplate the blessing of the hidden nature of God who cannot be fully known, cannot be manipulated, cannot be made into an idol, cannot be pinned down, contained or tamed
  • Consider the possibility of the new, the miraculous, the transfiguring entering our lives.
  • Remember that the Holy Spirit, like the wind, blows where she will.

Moving Outward: A time to gain direction, satisfaction, comfort, and new energy

  • Decide to continue a journey deeper into the love of Christ.
  • Refuse to take up again the guilt and hatred of the past.
  • Seek a simpler and more focused life.
  • Rest in the knowledge of God's unconditional love.
  • Move away from anxiety toward peace and faith.
  • Seek the direction of the Holy Spirit.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you're interested in walking a full 12 circuit labyrinth, there is one at Boston College. Take the Green Line B to the end of the line and then continue to walk up Commonwealth Avenue with BC directly on the left. You'll come up to a 'gateway entrance' with a guard house on the left. Go in that way then directly on the right is the Burns library and in front of it, the labyrinth.

Xochitl said...

I have done that one in BC with my peer group of four other feminists, and it was an amazing experience walking the Labyrinth together - but at our own pace. We then had lunch and shared. We learned so much about ourselves and each other. I loved it. Then we wanted to go back and walk it at night, go back in the spring and summer and walk it barefoot..all kinds of stuff. It was awesome.

And I'm not one who usually would have ever thought of doing this, except that I was in solidaridad - and I love it!

Anonymous said...

There is a great one in Melrose, too - UCC Highlands church (open lesbian pastor, too). They have a full size one, indoors, and host monthly walks. Very nice space.