• What I've Learned on the Labyrinth

    Posted by Karin Bergstrom

     

    We are focusing on the spiritual practice of praying with a labyrinth this month.

    "Prayer labyrinths are an ancient form of prayer that invite our bodies to participate in the process as we follow a path that mirrors the winding and circuitous journey of faith, existing mostly in gardens and churches. A finger labyrinth...invites you into a portable but equally meaningful version of the experience. As your finger moves from the outside entry point and traces along the path, notice any interior movements that indicate your response to God." - Jenn Giles Kemper, in the Sacred Ordinary Days planner

    The planner has the above brief introduction along with an actual finger labyrinth you can use, but this month we want to extend a broader invitation, explore together and offer some guidance so you can go farther and deeper with this spiritual practice. 

    We invited members of Common House, our ecumenical online community, to share experiences they have had with the prayer labyrinth and we are sharing some of this with you, too, with their permission. 

    Alizabeth Rasmussen: What I have Learned on the Labyrinth

     

    I’ve walked many labyrinths over my life. And if I there’s one thing I’ve learned, is that some point I will start questioning myself as to where to go. I get lost on the labyrinth. 

    I’ve walked them alone in Bellevue, or in groups on retreats in the woods, in Portland in pairs simulating the spiritual director and directee relationship, in way too large crowds on New Years Eve at St. Mark’s in Seattle. I’ve chafed at the one at Seattle Center, where kids play treating it like a maze, not realizing the meaning.

     I struggle with seriousness. And judgment. Can you tell? :-)

    And that is the gift, because every time I walk the labyrinth, at some point, I stop walking and I start laughing. After the seriousness and judgment and “doing it the RIGHT way,” there’s is only love…God’s love, the community’s love, and lastly my own love. 

    No matter how many times I walk, no matter how much I’ve grown, the labyrinth tells the truth as to where I am in this life. Over and over.

     

    Alizabeth Rasmussen is a host in Common House, a Spiritual Director, a photographer, a writer, and a teacher. She was trained at the Franciscan Center in Portland and loves how Spirit shows up in real life. You can read more of Liz's writing on her website Write.Click. as well as in Common House

    Do you have an experience with the prayer labyrinth that you would like to share? Head over to Instagram or Facebook to share and tag us @sacredordinarydays, please! Or, join the conversation inside Common House, our ecumenical online community.

    We are focusing on the spiritual practice of praying with a labyrinth this month. You can find the latest on our blog and on our prayer labyrinth resource page.  The planner has a brief introduction, but this month we want to extend a broader invitation, explore together, and offer some guidance so you can go farther and deeper with this spiritual practice. 


    But, the short and sweet is that our goal for this series is to help you...

    • LEARN about the spiritual practice of the praying with a labyrinth. You will learn about why we included in in the Sacred Ordinary Days planner and about how you can use the one in your planner or anywhere else.
    • EXPLORE a practice of prayer that includes physical movement. Whether it is your finger, your hands, or your whole body, praying with the labyrinth involves movement. Discovering new ways to pray has been a gift to me and I want to invite you in!
    • SHARE your experience with people who speak the same language. You'll get our guidance along the way, plus you'll get to know the other members of our community, by following along on Instagram or Facebook or inside Common House, our ecumenical online community.

    Read more

  • Walking a Prayer Labyrinth: a how-to guide

    Posted by Karin Bergstrom

     

     

    We are focusing on the spiritual practice of praying with a labyrinth this month.

    "Prayer labyrinths are an ancient form of prayer that invite our bodies to participate in the process as we follow a path that mirrors the winding and circuitous journey of faith, existing mostly in gardens and churches. A finger labyrinth...invites you into a portable but equally meaningful version of the experience. As your finger moves from the outside entry point and traces along the path, notice any interior movements that indicate your response to God." - Jenn Giles Kemper, in the Sacred Ordinary Days planner

    The planner has the above brief introduction along with an actual finger labyrinth you can use, but this month we want to extend a broader invitation, explore together and offer some guidance so you can go farther and deeper with this spiritual practice. 

    We have been talking about how to walk the labyrinth with others, the dance sort of experience that it can be, the interaction you have and don't have as you journey, the practice of witnessing the prayer walk. The beauty of community and being together in prayer. 

    At times you may not walk the labyrinth with others, you may be walking alone, no one else around you, no one else witnessing the journey. In many ways it is the same: the preparation, the walk inwards, abiding in the center, the journey outward, a time of reflection. 

    You may find more freedom in walking alone: the freedom to dance, to sing, to be playful and joyous. You may stop more often, you may change your pace, you may move your body more fully. You may walk differently, making the path shorter or longer, as you change the twists and turns. 

    You may find yourself feeling more self-conscious, especially if you are on a labyrinth that is in public view such as one in a park or at a hospital. You may find yourself distracted when a ball comes bouncing across your path or someone sits near the labyrinth talking on the phone. You may feel as though people are watching you and that distracts you from entering fully into prayer as you go. 

    Maybe you find that freedom to be a gift; maybe you find that freedom to be a burned. Maybe the distractions are a gift; maybe the distractions are the burden. As you imagine now walking the labyrinth, how do you envision that journey? Who else is there? What is the environment like? How do you prepare to walk the labyrinth when it is just how you like it? How do you prepare when it is anything but how you like it? 

    One of the labyrinths I have been to several times is one that is mowed into a field. I have walked it when the grass is short, I have walked it when the grass is long and brushing my hands. I have walked it alone, I have walked with other others, Have walked it with frogs hopping across my path ad crickets leaping around me. I have walked it when the wind was ready to blow me off my feet. I have walked it when the air has been absolutely still. Each experience is different, though the labyrinth is the same.

    I have my favorite scenario to walk that labyrinth and I know how to prepare for that walk. It is harder for me to prepare for a prayerful walk of the labyrinth when the conditions are not what I want them to be; but some of those walks have been the ones where I have learned the most, the ones where God has been the most direct, the ones where I have had to be the most open and the journey has been the most fruitful. Those are the walks when I recognize the discipline of walking a prayer labyrinth. 

    Now it is your turn: What do you do with your freedom? What do you do with your distractions? What are you being invited to as you walk the labyrinth alone? What is the gift in walking the labyrinth alone? How do you practice the discipline of walking the prayer labyrinth?

    Head over to Instagram or Facebook to share and tag us @sacredordinarydays, please! Or, join the conversation inside Common House, our ecumenical online community.

    We are focusing on the spiritual practice of praying with a labyrinth this month. You can find the latest on our blog and on our prayer labyrinth resource page.  The planner has a brief introduction, but this month we want to extend a broader invitation, explore together, and offer some guidance so you can go farther and deeper with this spiritual practice. 
    But, the short and sweet is that our goal for this series is to help you...

    • LEARN about the spiritual practice of the praying with a labyrinth. You will learn about why we included in in the Sacred Ordinary Days planner and about how you can use the one in your planner or anywhere else.
    • EXPLORE a practice of prayer that includes physical movement. Whether it is your finger, your hands, or your whole body, praying with the labyrinth involves movement. Discovering new ways to pray has been a gift to me and I want to invite you in!
    • SHARE your experience with people who speak the same language. You'll get our guidance along the way, plus you'll get to know the other members of our community, by following along on Instagram or Facebook or inside Common House, our ecumenical online community.

     

    Read more

  • The Beauty of the Prayer Labyrinth

    Posted by Karin Bergstrom

     We are focusing on the spiritual practice of praying with a labyrinth this month.

    "Prayer labyrinths are an ancient form of prayer that invite our bodies to participate in the process as we follow a path that mirrors the winding and circuitous journey of faith, existing mostly in gardens and churches. A finger labyrinth...invites you into a portable but equally meaningful version of the experience. As your finger moves from the outside entry point and traces along the path, notice any interior movements that indicate your response to God." - Jenn Giles Kemper, in the Sacred Ordinary Days planner

    The planner has the above brief introduction along with an actual finger labyrinth you can use, but this month we want to extend a broader invitation, explore together and offer some guidance so you can go farther and deeper with this spiritual practice. 

    We invited members of Common House, our ecumenical online community, to share experiences they have had with the prayer labyrinth and we are sharing some of this with you, too, with their permission. 

    Laura Knowles Cavanaugh: The Beauty of the Labyrinth

    Indian Heights Labyrinth

    I tend to be such a linear thinker. I imagine this path I'm walking on life's journey as a straight line, the shortest distance between two points. When I come to a bend or an angle, any slight degree off what I imagine to be the shortest, most economical, most correct way forward, I freak out.

    I try to somehow make the next step I take straight even though the path I'm walking is not.  Suddenly, I'm not participating in the work God is doing by simply showing up and allowing God to do the work. Now I'm the one working hard, all the while rejecting the way forward because it does not fit my limited expectations.

    When I sense my discomfort with the unexpected that I am being called into, I find myself drawn to the labyrinth.  At these moments, the labyrinth becomes for me chiefly an embodied prayer.  The metaphor is clothed in tangible reality.  I take actual, physical steps with my flesh-and-blood feet along a real-life path.  I breathe slowly and deeply.  I slow my pace to match my breath. 

    As I walk the labyrinth, I gradually realize again and again that the invitation of the labyrinth is to embrace the nonlinear journey: full of twists and turns and doubling back, circling right back to the starting point––but not quite. Although I feel like I'm back in the same place again, I'm actually still moving forward along the same path, the only path, the only way to the center­­––where the presence of God is waiting.

    Time and again I surprise myself that I still walk with the expectation that my destination is the center.   The center itself is not the goal, not the destination, not the end point. In the labyrinth walk, the center is only halfway.  A pause along the journey, a moment of rest, a breath.

    Then begins the journey outward, walking the path again, placing footsteps upon footsteps, back and back again to where I started.  Back to the beginning––back in the world, crossing the threshold once more into the space of ordinary walk.

    Except this time, I'm changed in some way.  This time I carry with me all the steps I've taken along the twisting way, all the breaths I've breathed, all the precious moments in the center and along the path of my intentional walk.

    The beauty of the labyrinth practice, for me, is that its wandering, meandering, nonlinear path toward and then away from the center constantly draws me back to grace and invites me to make room for compassion with each step, each breath.

    Walking with compassion means allowing myself to be in a place I'm disappointed about, to accept myself as I am and where I am in this moment, to stop trying to be where I'm not.  Walking with compassion means releasing control and choosing to stop striving so there is space again to receive and rest in God's grace––always sufficient, always more than enough.

     

    Laura Knowles Cavanaugh has been a writer all her life and treasures the sacred story woven through ordinary daily life. She has studied English literature and creative writing, theology and art, and spiritual direction and is especially interested in contemplative spiritual practices and body theology. While growing her spiritual direction practice, she works as a remote office manager and writing tutor/editor and also volunteers as a conversation partner for non-native speakers. Laura and her husband have moved several times for his job and are currently in the Kansas City area with their rambunctious rescue mutts, Starbuck and Eleven. Although her roots are Presbyterian, she has since participated in a wide variety of Christian denominations and also appreciates learning from eastern practices. Laura loves sharing deep conversations over a hot cup of tea. 

    You can find her in Common House and online at Sacred Pilgrim. She is a spiritual director and produces a daily lectio divina podcast that you can follow with iTunes or Stitcher

     

    Do you have an experience with the prayer labyrinth that you would like to share? Head over to Instagram or Facebook to share and tag us @sacredordinarydays, please! Or, join the conversation inside Common House, our ecumenical online community.

    We are focusing on the spiritual practice of praying with a labyrinth this month. You can find the latest on our blog and on our prayer labyrinth resource page.  The planner has a brief introduction, but this month we want to extend a broader invitation, explore together, and offer some guidance so you can go farther and deeper with this spiritual practice. 


    But, the short and sweet is that our goal for this series is to help you...

    • LEARN about the spiritual practice of the praying with a labyrinth. You will learn about why we included in in the Sacred Ordinary Days planner and about how you can use the one in your planner or anywhere else.
    • EXPLORE a practice of prayer that includes physical movement. Whether it is your finger, your hands, or your whole body, praying with the labyrinth involves movement. Discovering new ways to pray has been a gift to me and I want to invite you in!
    • SHARE your experience with people who speak the same language. You'll get our guidance along the way, plus you'll get to know the other members of our community, by following along on Instagram or Facebook or inside Common House, our ecumenical online community.

     

    Read more

  • Experiencing the Prayer Labyrinth at Grace Cathedral

    Posted by Karin Bergstrom

    We are focusing on the spiritual practice of praying with a labyrinth this month.

    "Prayer labyrinths are an ancient form of prayer that invite our bodies to participate in the process as we follow a path that mirrors the winding and circuitous journey of faith, existing mostly in gardens and churches. A finger labyrinth...invites you into a portable but equally meaningful version of the experience. As your finger moves from the outside entry point and traces along the path, notice any interior movements that indicate your response to God." - Jenn Giles Kemper, in the Sacred Ordinary Days planner

    The planner has the above brief introduction along with an actual finger labyrinth you can use, but this month we want to extend a broader invitation, explore together and offer some guidance so you can go farther and deeper with this spiritual practice. 

    We invited members of Common House, our ecumenical online community, to share experiences they have had with the prayer labyrinth and we are sharing some of this with you, too, with their permission. 

     Robin Smith: Grace Cathedral

    © Photo by The Rev. Warren Lynn, www.wellfedspirit.org, used with permission, all rights reserved.

     

    I'm happy to share that I have walked the indoor labyrinth twice at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. It's a particularly beautiful one. The first time was in 1998, I think. It was a time of big transitions in my life and I found the experience to be helpful in reminding myself in a visceral way that life is sometimes full of 180 degree turns and switchbacks and that there are blessings to be found therein. In the 1990's, labyrinths weren't as well known as they are today, so there were only 1 or 2 others walking it that first day. When I went back 10 or so years later, it was very crowded and there was no one there to keep order. There were kids running through, selfies being taken, etc. Not wanting to be deterred, I just started mindfully walking it, and peace descended! It was still crowded but people actually started walking it. I enjoyed that walk for completely different reasons. It's hard to describe the feeling I had of being just one of many different kinds of pilgrims walking many different kinds of walks, but it was an instructive spiritual experience.

    My advice to anyone walking a labyrinth for the first time is to be open to whatever experience of it is given to you. It might be sublime from the start, or not! I wish I could visit Grace Cathedral more often because I would love to learn more from that labyrinth. 

    Do you have an experience with the prayer labyrinth that you would like to share? Head over to Instagram or Facebook to share and tag us @sacredordinarydays, please! Or, join the conversation inside Common House, our ecumenical online community.

    We are focusing on the spiritual practice of praying with a labyrinth this month. You can find the latest on our blog and on our prayer labyrinth resource page.  The planner has a brief introduction, but this month we want to extend a broader invitation, explore together, and offer some guidance so you can go farther and deeper with this spiritual practice. 


    But, the short and sweet is that our goal for this series is to help you...

    • LEARN about the spiritual practice of the praying with a labyrinth. You will learn about why we included in in the Sacred Ordinary Days planner and about how you can use the one in your planner or anywhere else.
    • EXPLORE a practice of prayer that includes physical movement. Whether it is your finger, your hands, or your whole body, praying with the labyrinth involves movement. Discovering new ways to pray has been a gift to me and I want to invite you in!
    • SHARE your experience with people who speak the same language. You'll get our guidance along the way, plus you'll get to know the other members of our community, by following along on Instagram or Facebook or inside Common House, our ecumenical online community.

     

    Read more

  • Walking a Prayer Labyrinth Together: a how-to guide

    Posted by Karin Bergstrom

    We are focusing on the spiritual practice of praying with a labyrinth this month.

    "Prayer labyrinths are an ancient form of prayer that invite our bodies to participate in the process as we follow a path that mirrors the winding and circuitous journey of faith, existing mostly in gardens and churches. A finger labyrinth...invites you into a portable but equally meaningful version of the experience. As your finger moves from the outside entry point and traces along the path, notice any interior movements that indicate your response to God." - Jenn Giles Kemper, in the Sacred Ordinary Days planner

    The planner has the above brief introduction along with an actual finger labyrinth you can use, but this month we want to extend a broader invitation, explore together and offer some guidance so you can go farther and deeper with this spiritual practice. 

    Have you ever walked a labyrinth with someone else? The first time that I did a labyrinth with others, it almost had the feeling of a dance. Passing other people, each on the same journey but at our own pace and with our own words. Coming close to someone and then turning away as we each followed the path. We didn't share prayers, we didn't share words, but we had a common understanding of the greater journey that we were on. Walking the labyrinth together, we were in community together. 

    You may have the opportunity to walk the labyrinth with others especially if you are on a retreat or at a church or retreat center that opens a labyrinth at certain times. A labyrinth facilitator or spiritual director may be available at that time to be with you as you prepare for the labyrinth or reflect on your experience. There may be a shared journal at the labyrinth where you can write about your own experience or read about others' experiences. 

    When you are walking a labyrinth with others, what do you do when you meet on the path? You may be entering as they are leaving or the other way around. You may find yourselves in the center together. You can stay with your own thoughts and prayers and keep your eyes on the path. You may want to acknowledge them or greet them in some way. Do whatever feels right to you in that moment. They may greet you in the same way or in a different way. There is no right way to walk the labyrinth. 

    You may find walking with others a distraction. As best you can, spread yourselves out to limit that distraction. You can choose either to increase your focusing efforts or you can choose to follow the distraction with prayer. If the distraction is taking up your energy, maybe this walk is about following it. What can you learn from what is distracting you? How can you pray your distraction? What is the distraction saying about you and your relationship with others? Or with God? 

    You may also find yourself sitting and witnessing the walk of the labyrinth. Not watching others walk, but witnessing in a soft and non-judgmental way. You can be in prayerful union with the walkers as you gently observe the labyrinth walk. 

    If there isn't a built-in opportunity to walk the labyrinth with others, maybe you want to make that happen. Invite a friend or a small group to join the walk with you. You don't need to be the expert. You can learn together or learn from one another. Reflect together on your experience; you may hear that someone has a very similar or a very different experience than you had at the same time. 

    Now it is your turn ... Have you walked a labyrinth with others before? What was your experience like? What appeals to you about it? What hesitations do you have about it?

    Head over to Instagram or Facebook to share and tag us @sacredordinarydays, please! Or, join the conversation inside Common House, our ecumenical online community. 

     

    We are focusing on the spiritual practice of praying with a labyrinth this month. You can find the latest on our blog and on our prayer labyrinth resource page.  The planner has a brief introduction, but this month we want to extend a broader invitation, explore together, and offer some guidance so you can go farther and deeper with this spiritual practice. 

    But, the short and sweet is that our goal for this series is to help you...

    • LEARN about the spiritual practice of the praying with a labyrinth. You will learn about why we included in in the Sacred Ordinary Days planner and about how you can use the one in your planner or anywhere else.
    • EXPLORE a practice of prayer that includes physical movement. Whether it is your finger, your hands, or your whole body, praying with the labyrinth involves movement. Discovering new ways to pray has been a gift to me and I want to invite you in!
    • SHARE your experience with people who speak the same language. You'll get our guidance along the way, plus you'll get to know the other members of our community, by following along on Instagram or Facebook or inside Common House, our ecumenical online community.

    Read more