“All problems can be solved by a walk.”St. Augustine
Several congregations in our diocese have chosen to create a labyrinth in their grounds. Open to the community around them they are a wonderful way to spread peace and encourage contemplation.
These six are close to home – Grace Church, Carthage; Grace Church, Liberty; St. Mary Magdalene, Belton; St. Peter and All Saints, Kansas City; and Trinity Episcopal Church, Independence.
When daily life is chaotic, labyrinths are a hopeful sign of order.
We can be paralyzed by confusion, flitting to and fro in what is sometimes referred to as “monkey mind”. We wander from one room to another, looking for our lost glasses, car keys, or the telephone. Labyrinths help bring us order and calm us down; they clarify and focus us.
The choice is ours, to live our life as a maze or as a labyrinth – a maze with confusions, wrong turns, dead ends, false hopes – or a labyrinth with its many turnings, but none of them wrong, a path with sure and certain knowledge of reaching and experiencing the center, home. Walking the labyrinth is not about escaping into the center and leaving the world, it is about experiencing the Spirit in the center so that you can live in the world in a more blessed way.
Labyrinths can be many things for many people – an aid in healing and decision making, help in releasing grief, a guide through troubled times, illuminate our purpose in life and a place to celebrate.
There are no “right” or “wrong” ways to experience a labyrinth. A labyrinth has only one path; the way in is the way out. There are no wrong turns, no tricks or dead ends, confirming our faith that hope exists in the universe. When daily life is chaotic, the labyrinth is a sign of order. With a labyrinth there is only one choice to be made; the choice is to enter or not.
These suggestions might be helpful
- As you move to the left consider what might be left behind (things that separate you from God) that would help to build your relationship with the Lord.
- As you move to the right consider something that’s gone right or that you can make go right that will also, in turn, build your relationship with God.
- You may want to choose a favorite scripture, mantra, invocation or psalm to begin your journey. For example, “Come, Holy Spirit”, to call God to be present with you; a mantra (a helpful word or phrase you repeat to yourself) like “Lord, fill my heart”, or “Come, Lord”.
- As you reach the center take your time there to prepare a space for the Holy Spirit. This makes sense, when we fill our lives up with clutter there is very little space left for the Holy Spirit. Sometimes people will do a written or audio guided meditation to help them clear their minds.
- Leave when you are ready, taking notice of light your body feels, how relaxed you are. As you move back out into the world, take the gift that you have learned with you back to your day to day life. The gift could be in the form of something you are going to do for the greater good and remembering you already are a gift that God has given to the world.
- As you step out say a prayer of thanksgiving.
Labyrinths confirm our faith that hope exists in the universe.
People create outdoor labyrinths in their own backyards – using bricks or stones, on the beach in the sand, in the snow, grass or flowers, on mats that can unroll or strips of cloth that can be laid out. This summer, you could create one in your own backyard with a lawnmower, placing something large (like a rock, pillow or chair) in the center. Friends, family and neighbors can use it, children run and sing in it. Sometimes people set them up in the dark and light the path by candle or play relaxing music; some like silence and daylight.
Experiencing a labyrinth can provide many metaphors for life:
- What do you want your life to be like?
- Where is your center?
- What is your compass?
- What are you putting in the spaces?
- What are you putting on your path?
- Who can you ask to help?
If you need an incentive to take a drive and get outside, this might be it!