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?
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.