Everyday Spirituality

Posts tagged ‘walking’

Labyrinth Wisdom

I have written previously about walking the labyrinth, so please bear with me one more time. I want to share yet another experience I recently had because each walk is unique and bears its own gifts.

About twenty of us began our walk on a hot, humid, cloudy morning. Before entering our prayer was asking Our Lord to walk beside each of us.  Although outside, surrounded by nature and tall trees, the instrumental music drifted like incense up into the heavy air.

A few minutes into the walk a gentle rain began to fall upon us. I started to become concerned that if it rained harder we would have to abandon this walk. I prayed in silence, as I followed those ahead of me, for God to allow us to complete this sacred journey.  The light rain was oddly soothing to me. It seemed to simultaneously caress us as we were held together within the borders of the Labyrinth. Only God could have created this meaningful experience. Thoughts of sadness also wandered in my mind.  I had just learned a friend had lost her daughter to cancer. The heavens were weeping with us. I passed one person who was quietly crying.

Walking this labyrinth we had people of all ages, color, and walks of life. We had people at different stages of their spiritual growth. We were all on the same path together. We were all walking the same direction although at times one would pass appearing to be walking in opposite directions. I think this is true in life as well. Sometimes it “appears” that another person is walking in the opposite direction, but in reality they are actually walking in the same direction as you. It is times like this when it is easy to fall into the trap of wrongfully judging another. I am reminded of a joke I heard many years ago…as people died and were ushered into the gates of heaven they were admonished to very quiet as they passed by the first room…the idea being that room was for the Catholics and they did not believe anyone else was in heaven. Oh, my gosh!

My right hip has been causing me much pain recently and I had some concerns about how painful this walk might become. To my surprise the pain was minimal. I know others on this walk had some similar concerns about completing the walk; at least one person had recently recovered from knee surgery. Walking the labyrinth alone one might be more apt to quit, but walking with a group is different. Walking with a group is like being carried along on the journey by the others. I am reminded of the paralytic being physically carried by his friends. But I believe we can be carried emotionally by our friends too.

Walking the Labyrinth with others forces you to be in the present…people in front of you…people behind you…people passing you sometimes causing you to slow your gait allowing them to continue. Oh, that we could be that considerate in all the situations of daily living. No one bumped into anyone else even though the path was very narrow.

Arriving to the center was something to behold. As each person entered into the center the others made room for them, no words needed to be spoken. I was the last one into the center. We all stood still for a few moments together in silence…side by side… embraced by the stillness…in the space between our steps…together.

The walk out seemed shorter to me even though it was the exact path. I now noticed the quiet was periodically punctuated by the squawking of a black bird. My thoughts drift to those times when I am less kind than I should be to others. I notice the nearby plant with the vibrant purple berry clusters. Beauty is around us everywhere.

We are all on the same journey in life. We are on the journey to return to God; for he has called us by name chosen us to be his people…to live together in peace and harmony. The labyrinth is very symbolic of our daily life.

I invite you to walk a labyrinth whenever you have the opportunity even if it is hot, humid, and drizzling. There within the Labyrinth rests pools of wisdom from which we can freely drink.

May you each be blessed and know that you are exactly where you are meant to be on your spiritual journey…just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You will reach the center…the stillness…the peace.


Labyrinth Walk

Yesterday I was blessed to join a wonderful group as walked an outdoor labyrinth together. The morning began with some friendly sharing of breakfast and socializing.

What followed was a peace-filled presentation on the beauty of  walking the labyrinth as a form of “Body Prayer”. The presenter began by playing her singing bowl leading us into becoming more centered as we focused on breathing…always good to remember to keep breathing. We became aware of our intention to be open with our mind, heart, whole being. It was an opportunity to surender to the experience of the labyrinth walk without grasping for any preconceived outcomes. 

Silence was imposed for the duration of the walk as we headed out the door. Leaving the comfort of the air condition, we began the two block walk down the tree lined streets to the entrance of the labyrinth. It was an unusual experience to walk almost in single file without talking on a bright Saturday morning.

Most were anticipating the unknown…their first labyrinth experience. But, for me it was eager anticipation to experience this walk with so many others. Most often when I have had the experience of walking a labyrinth it has been alone. Walking alone is a much different experience than walking with twenty others. Walking alone you have no one in front of you, no one behind you. Walking alone you can be focused only on yourself…Is that being selfish? Who am I to say. But, this was a very different experience.

The leader acted as the gate keeper so to speak and allowed only one person at a time to enter the labyrinth. After a few minutes the next person was given the affirmative nod to enter the sacred space. There was a sense of calm waiting for permission to begin the walk.

Once the rhythm of walking the path begins the labyrinth holds you, guides you, and takes you in to it’s center. You can let your mind go and become more aware of each individual step you take. Sometimes walking straight, sometimes making sharp turns, sometimes being closer to the outside, then being closer to the center.

There is so much about real life that is paralleled in this “Prayer of the Body”. The person who was in front of me missed the first turn and I followed so the path led us around again. The next time I was paying closer attention and even though she missed the turn again I turned and continued the circuit. I reflected on how many times I have been following others and missed something I should have noticed.

At other times I had to pause and allow another to pass as the path was only wide enough for one at a time. I could have stepped around and passed using the adjacent path, but then I would have risked getting confused. There was the risk not getting back on the right track. How many times in life did I gat “off the path” and get confused…not bale to find my way back to the “right path” right away.

As I reached the center there was a sense of peace and accomplishment. I had completed the walk into the belly of this labyrinth, but I knew I could only remain ther for a short period of time. Others were on their way to the center also and there was only a small space for lingering.

The walk out was filled with a sense of release. I was comng out of the labyrinth. It was almost like being re-birthed back into the real world. This birthing process is gentle and familiar as you walk along the same familiar path that led you to the center. The path is the same, but you are changed because of this experience.

As I was coming out I walked a short distance along side my friend. Walking in silence it appeared that we were both walking in the same direction, but suddenly as we came to the turn I discovered we were really walking in opposite directions. Sometimes things are not what they appear to be! Much there for me to reflect on and carefully unpack in the future.

Each person who enters the labyrinth has their own unique experience. Each person has the opportunity to receive many gifts and insights along the journey. I find the experience of walking the labyrinth reflective of our lives in many ways.

May you always be Blessed in all ways!

World Labyrinth Day

As I am writing this post people in our central time zone are walking a labyrinth in solidarity of the celebration of World Labyrinth Day. The theme this year is “We Walk as One at 1”. So for 24 hours people around the globe are “Walking the Sacred Path” as Dr. Lauren Artress titled her book on the labyrinth.

I was introduced to the labyrinth several years ago at a conference. The more I experience the process of walking the labyrinth path the more I have come to cherish this time. Every time I am near a labyrinth I try to make the time to enter and surrender to the leading of the design. The walk is like no other; you can let your mind go and focus on your connection with the ground or the empty center. The beauty of the labyrinth is that you can just walk there are no choices to make no decisions to make. You just walk and let the path lead you. Sometimes you are near the outer edge sometimes you are near the center, sometimes there are long straight sections, sometimes there are sharp turns and curves. Along with these comes the awareness that you are headed into the very center. The emptiness of the center, the stillness of the center; where you can pause a while in peaceful surrender before you begin the journey out back into the world.

When you leave the center the way you look at things can be very different. You have allowed yourself to be silently led along the path. There is a sense, for me, of wellbeing. I think of the words spoken by Jesus, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life” John  14: 6.

Walking the labyrinth can be a time of quiet solitude. A time to reflect on the Way to the heart of Jesus who is the center of our life.

I pray that when you have the opportunity to walk a labyrinth you will embrace it with an open heart and soul.

In a future post I will give some more information about the labyrinth like how it is different from a maze. A labyrinth is closely related to a spiral.

May you be Blessed…

Enjoy this finger labyrinth download.