Monday, April 07, 2014

Prayer Series Part III: The Labyrinth

A.Hanson 2012
Denver, CO
Prayer labyrinths are one of my very favorite things.  They are often works of art.  The picture to the left is of a prayer labyrinth at Montview Presbyterian church in Denver, CO, which is still one of my favorite labyrinths.  In the summer, I like to take off my shoes and walk the warm stones at dusk.  I have walked labyrinths all over the world and in many different places.  I have walked them in massive French cathedrals, in pastures in rural Minnesota, in church basements, on mountaintops in Colorado.  There are so many places in which to experience this prayer practice.

There is a fair amount of controversy surrounding prayer labyrinths, because they are an ancient pagan symbol that was adopted by the Catholic church.  Only in the last two decade or so have they seen a resurgence in emerging and neo-orthodox churches.

I have found Sally Welch's Walking the Labyrinth:A Spiritual and Practical Guide to be a useful tool in explaining the history, function, and discipline of the prayer labyrinth.

There is only one way into the labyrinth, and only one way out.  It is not a maze, rather, it is a gentle path that doubles back on itself.  It is possible to relax while in the labyrinth.  There are many ways to engage this prayer practice, my favorite is very simple.  I pick an intention for my time in the labyrinth.  Whether that is a certain word, phrase or idea I am pondering, or something that I want to let go of, I only focus on that intention as I walk to the center of the labyrinth.  Once I reach the center, I pause and pray.  Sometimes I am in the center for awhile.  Then on my way back out of the labyrinth I feel the freedom of that intention or listening to what God is saying to me.  Just before leaving the labyrinth, I give thanks for my time there.

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