Friday, February 03, 2012

On walking the labyrinth

Iliff Labyrinth
The prayer labyrinth is a medieval tradition, found in many cathedrals from that time.  The best preserved example is the Chartres Cathedral in Northern France.

The labyrinth has been reborn as a form of contemplative meditation, a pilgrimage of sorts.  A person slowly walks through the labyrinth, gently wending and winding through to the center.  It is not a maze, there is one way in and one way out.  I have found that walking the labyrinth is an exercise in trust for me.  You have to walk slowly and deliberately.

I think that it is a function of who we are as a society that we are naturally suspicious that we are going to be taken advantage of or tricked.  The labyrinth is a challenge for me because I am somehow afraid that I will get lost.  I know this is not possible, because I have literally walked various labyrinths hundreds of times, but each walk through the labyrinth is a pilgrimage of trust.  Trusting in the presence of God to guide me.

In a way, walking the labyrinth is like walking through my life.  I need to slow down, and watch only where I am walking at that point in time.  I need to trust that the journey is what is most important, and that even though I cannot see the ending, I must keep walking.

I try to walk a labyrinth as often as possible.  Some of my favorites have been at Flathead Lutheran camp, the UCC retreat center outside Colorado Springs, the labyrinth at Holden Village, and an informal labyrinth created by visitors to the lakes at St. Etienne at Taize in France.  My seminary offers the opportunity to walk a labyrinth a couple times a month, and I crave that quiet time in the dimly lit Great Hall.  It is a respite from the craziness of schoolwork and writing and discerning.  It is just being. And I need to do more of that.

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