Throughout the season of Lent we are exploring spiritual practices, or means of grace, that help to grow closer to Christ. Means of Grace are spiritual practices that help us make room in our hearts and lives for God. This week we explore the practice of the Prayer Labyrinth.
The Prayer Labyrinth
The labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world. Labyrinths can be large for walking, indoors or outdoors, and small designed for your fingers to walk. You can even walk a labyrinth on your computer screen using your mouse.
Unlike a maze, there are no dead ends or false paths in a labyrinth. You simply follow the path to the center, putting one foot (or finger) in front of the other. The path winds throughout and becomes a mirror for where we are in our lives; it touches our sorrows and releases our joys. So walk it with an open mind and an open heart.
Trace the path in the labyrinth with your finger. As you “walk” the labyrinth be aware of how and where your spiritual focus is and how it draws you to God. You may find you are focused on the journey itself and how you move toward and away from God at times or how the path leads to the center and the heart of God. Each person finds his or her own unique experience.
There is no right or wrong way to experience the labyrinth. Trace or walk the labyrinth without words, sing it, pray, or repeat a few lines of scripture. Feel free to skip, run, crawl or dance as you journey the labyrinth. Use whatever means might help you to open yourself to God’s presence.
There are three stages of the walk:
- Purgation (entering): A releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. During this stage you walk the path toward the center. This is an act of shedding thoughts and emotions. It quiets and empties the mind letting go of the barriers and busyness that stand between us and God.
- Illumination (receiving): The time in the center. The center of the labyrinth symbolizes God as the axis of our world, the central point around which our lives and journeys revolve. The center is a place of meditation and prayer, openness and peacefulness. The time spent in the center is time spent being open to God’s leading.
- Union (reviewing): You leave the center following the same path. Use this time to review and consider what occurred in the center and how it may be applied to your life. We journey out of the labyrinth carrying something of our encounter with God with us.
Suggestions for your labyrinth walk:
Intentional walks where you address a specific intention, issue, or concern
Intercessory walks offering prayer for a different person at each turn on the path
Meditative walks meditating on a specific scripture or pray repeating the Jesus prayer (Lord have mercy) or The Lord’s Prayer
For additional reflection on the labyrinth, visit Faith UMC’s website and listen to Pastor Cara Stultz Costello’s sermon from March 17, The Way, http://faithum.weebly.com/listen.html
We’d love to hear how you have experienced the labyrinth! Click ‘leave a comment’ to share your thoughts!May God richly bless you as you seek to find your way and experience God’s grace this Lent! In Christ, Kathy Schmucker, Director of Christian Education & Spiritual Formation Check out the following links for more information and links to online labyrinth experiences: http://alivenow.upperroom.org/2012/10/22/praying-a-labyrinth/# http://www.labyrinthonline.com/labs.html# http://www.lostinwonder.org.uk/