I have just returned home from a weekend retreat at St. John’s Anglican Convent in Toronto (http://www.ssjd.ca/ )—three days of relative silence, prayer (both personal and corporate), along with four sessions led by two of the Sisters of St. John. These sessions introduced us to praying with the labyrinth and creating a mandala as another way of getting in touch with the Divine Mystery, which is God.
I have long been familiar with walking as a means of freeing the mind to go beyond itself in order that the soul may find God. When I was writing my two books of meditations I often found that walking enabled me to hear God’s word more clearly, clarifying the points I was trying to put into words. The kind of walking that I do every day is linear walking—along the driveway and onto the country road, in a shopping mall, or even on the ground floor of my house.
Labyrinth walking is along a circular path rather than a straight path. A labyrinth goes along an ever curving path towards a central space, now appearing to be close to the centre and now seemingly further away. It is like life’s path toward God—now we seem to be close to the Divine and now we appear to be further away from God, but we are ever on the road to the Sacred.
The first time I walked the labyrinth I felt, from time to time, that I was lost. Though we had been assured that we couldn’t get lost while walking the labyrinth path—unlike a maze, the path is unicursal; there is but one way in and one way out—yet it took so long for me to get to the centre and at times there was another person facing me on the same path that I felt uncertain of myself.
In the same way, when we walk along the road of life, we sometimes feel lost or uncertain as to whether we are on the right path or not. Walking the labyrinth reassured me that as long as we are walking through life under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we cannot get lost. Even though we may feel far away from the Divine, as long as we keep in prayer with God we are where we are meant to be in our spiritual life.
On my first labyrinth walk, I tried to keep myself open to God’s presence repeating the words, I open myself to you O Lord. On my second labyrinth walk as I walked slowly to the centre I repeated the words, Step by step I come to you O Lord. At the centre I felt a great peace and blessing come upon me. My walk out of the labyrinth, back out into the world so to speak, was done at a quicker pace and I repeated the words that I was given, I am sent as on a mission; here am I, send me.
In the afternoon session, we were encouraged to put God’s message from our labyrinth experience into art form by creating a mandala. God spoke to us individually and as a group over the course of our weekend retreat. We stand on the threshold of Christ, the door, and go in and out and find fresh pasture; we walk the labyrinth way through life with God, ever going where He leads, maturing in the Holy Spirit.
© Judith Lawrence
Author of Glorious Autumn Days: Meditations for the Wisdom Years; and Grapes From The Vine, Book of Mystical Poetry. Both available at http://www.lulu.com/
Author of Prayer Companion: A Treasury of Personal Meditation, available at Chapters and http://www.pathbooks.com/
Web Site: http://www.judithlawrence.ca/