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.
If you have looked around at labyrinths, you know there are a lot of different types! There are different designs that are used. They are made out of different materials. They are different sizes. They are in different settings. Each of these differences are neither good nor bad, but the differences may make a difference in how we experience praying with the labyrinth.
The labyrinth pattern on the left is the classic 7-circuit labyrinth. The use of this one is widespread partly because of the simplicity of its pattern and is found all over the world. Directions to draw this labyrinth are available in several different books and online. This classic pattern evolved into the design on the right and was used in the Chartres Cathedral in the 13th century and is now known as the Chartres labyrinth design. It is this design that we have included in the planner. There are many, many more labyrinth designs in the world and you can learn more about them here.
A walking size labyrinth might be outdoors or indoors, it might be permanently installed, a portable canvas one, or a temporarily installed one. It might be located in a public park, in a church, in a retreat center, or in a hospital. It might be mowed into a lawn or it might be a hard surface. It might be masking tape on the ground. Before you walk a labyrinth, being attentive to its location is helpful for you to reflect on in the ways that its location might impact you. Will it be quiet or will there be noise? Will there be others on the labyrinth with you? Karin wrote a post in Common House that reflects a bit on walking a labyrinth in a public park with her toddlers.
If you looking to find a labyrinth to walk, the Labyrinth Locater online can help you do so. As that site notes, and we will emphasize, please check in on the labyrinth before traveling to visit one to make sure that you will have access to it. Some of the listings may be outdated.
A walking labyrinth can vary in size, but is large enough to walk on. There are also handheld labyrinths and they can vary greatly in size from one that is mounted on a stand to one that can fit in the palm of your hand and a stylus is used to move through it. Some handheld labyrinths will be a flat surface and some will have a raised texture. Using a handheld labyrinth requires the practice of patience and very small movements. The labyrinth included in the back of your planner is flat can be used with with your finger or with a stylus. The letterpress print is larger and the labyrinth has a texture, making it easier to follow by feel with your finger.
Later this month we will share some ideas of how you can make your own labyrinth, either walking sized or one that you can hold.
Now it is your turn ... How have the different labyrinths you have used changed the experience for you? Do you have a favorite design, location, or personal one?
Now it's your turn. What has your experience been with the prayer labyrinth? Have you been invited to experience one at church or on a retreat? What questions do you have about praying the labyrinth?
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.