Labyrinths seem to have developed around the twelfth century as a substitute for making pilgrimage to a holy site. Labyrinths are not mazes, nor are they something magical. Walking the labyrinth is not some newfangled technique to jump start your spiritual life. It is a slow, quiet, meditative practice that has historically attended to the desire to make a journey toward God. The floor of Charte's Cathedral in France has a labyrinth that has been used by pilgrims for centuries.
In walking the labyrinth you leave behind the noise and hurry of life. Just as you would simply for a pilgrimage, you offer your load to Jesus as you begin your prayer journey. The prayer-path structure moves you slowly toward the center and toward God. At times you are close to the center, further along the path you may be further away from the center. This represents the reality of the spiritual journey. But as we keep moving, we are always getting closer to the center and to God, no matter how far away it looks in real space. At the center of the walk you can stop and rest in the presence of God, listening for God's Word to you. With God's Word in your heart you begin your journey back into the world.
To Walk The Labyrinth.
- Intentionally leave behind all the noise and haste and clamor of your life. Prepare your heart to listen. God may bring a word of scripture to your mind. Nature may speak of God's love and care. Be patient. Pay attention. How does the journey to the center reflect your current spiritual path?
- As you walk intentionally toward God and the center of the labyrinth consider what you might need to surrender in order to live more fully in the love and fullness of God's presence. Is there bitterness, addiction, expectation, pride, self-orientation, past hurts that you want to leave behind as you walk towards God? Leave them in the center with God.
- Once in the center, abide in the presence of Christ. Ask for the grace you are seeking for your return to life in the world. Receive the comfort, inspiration or word the Holy Spirit has for you. When you sense that it is time to leave, slowly and with a quiet mind make your way from the center back into the world, listening and stopping as you are prompted by the Holy Spirit. How can you consciously live out the word God has given you on your prayer walk?
- When you receive a word from the Lord for your journey, hold on to it. It has been given specifically for now. Don't move away from this word too quickly. Return to it during the week.