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.
There is no right way to walk the labyrinth. There is no one way to pray with the labyrinth, no right words to say, no right ways to take the steps, no right labyrinth shape, no right labyrinth material or form. There are no "shoulds" or "oughts." The labyrinth is a tool; it is not the prayer, nor the pray-er.
If reading those words brings you a sense of relief or freedom, you can stop reading now. You have what you need from this post!
If reading those words brings you tension and frustration because it just isn't enough, read on ... we'll say a bit more.
Repeat with me: There is no right way to walk the labyrinth.
There are generally understood to be a few phases of walking the labyrinth: the preparation, the inward walk, the center, the outward walk, and the reflection. Please note that while we are using the language of walking, you may also "walk" with your fingers if you are using a smaller scale labyrinth.
As you prepare to walk the labyrinth, it can be helpful to take some time to reflect and to quiet your mind and focus your thoughts. What brings you to the labyrinth today? Are you looking for guidance, to ask a question, to be open to God, to reflect on your spiritual journey, to do a pilgrimage? Do you have a prayer you want to pray as you walk? What emotions are you feeling as you prepare? What is your body doing as you prepare?
As you enter the labyrinth, you are traveling inward to the center of the labyrinth. You are walking intentionally toward God. Expect God to meet you. There is only one path; it is not a maze, so follow the twists and turns. Move at your own pace as you travel toward God. You might let your mind wander or you might actively pray. You might recite scripture or you might gather a question for the journey. You might reflect on things that you need to surrender or leave behind as you walk towards God.
Once you arrive at the center of the labyrinth, rest in the presence of God. Receive the comfort and inspiration of the Spirit. What word does God have for you? What do you need to leave here with God? What do you need to pick up and carry back out from here? Stay as long as you need to here, in the center, abiding with God.
As you leave the center, you are returning to the world following the same path that brought you in. How are you carrying the presence of Christ with you? What are you taking back out into the world? Your pace might be the same as when you walked in and it might be different. It is a different journey, to travel outward from the center of the labyrinth to the world, even though the path is the same.
After you leave the path of the labyrinth, it can be helpful to take some time to reflect on the experience. What observations do you have on your experience? What did you discover about prayer during your labyrinth journey? About yourself? About God? What worked for you in this form of prayer? How was walking the labyrinth different from other ways you pray? How was it similar? What will you carry with you from this experience?
Now it's your turn.
How do you feel about praying with the labyrinth? What excitements or hesitations do you have? Have you taken the first step to try it? What do you anticipate form this journey?
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.