>The Center of the Labyrinth

>Walking the famous labyrinth on floor of Chart...Image via WikipediaWe had our Stations of the Cross last night.  I worked with a friend to map out a contemporary “Stations” with images and prayers.  While our hope was to walk our way from the Catholic Church to Girdwood Chapel as we did last year, we had to change plans because it was raining so hard yesterday.  With no let-up in sight, we were pretty sure that the weather was going to keep people from participating.  It was the right decision.

So, we had nine stations over at the Catholic Church and another five at Girdwood Chapel.

We closed it out with a Prayer Labyrinth. It was a cloth labyrinth, 28 feet in diameter, laid out on the Girdwood Chapel sanctuary floor.

For the uninitiated, a prayer labyrinth has one long path to a center location.  It’s designed to slow down our minds so we can focus on God.  While its use predates Christianity, Christians have found it a valuable tool for focusing hearts and minds on God.  One is directed to pray while entering and while exiting on the same path.   Tonight’s participants were given a choice of ways to experience the labyrinth.  They were told they could meditate on Scripture, and verses were available to them.  They were told they could recite a favorite prayer or Scripture.  They were told they could offer up their burdens before God while entering the labyrinth, bask in God’s glory and presence in the center, and then offer thanksgivings and praise to God as they exited.  Essentially, they were told there was no wrong way to go about doing this.

I played “host” for the bulk of the evening.  I made sure we had Gregorian Chant on the stereo and that candles were lit in the sanctuary where the cloth labyrinth was spread.  I walked with our four – year -olds as they “raced” through it….not quite the meditative experience I was hoping they might touch on.

So, I wasn’t able to enter the labyrinth myself until most of the people had gone.

As I entered, it was hard to put away the thoughts of the day and all that needs to be accomplished over the next couple of days.  So, I tried to center myself with “The Jesus Prayer” — which is the prayer I use when I need to do some centering or need focus on my breathing or need to calm myself down…

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Have Mercy on Me, a Sinner

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Have Mercy on Me, a Sinner

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Have Mercy on Me, a Sinner

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

The whole way in, I had trouble.  The noise of my own mind was keeping my mind from resting.  I wondered if it would be worth it to keep moving on with such a wandering mind.  But I kept going.

And I was rewarded.

As I got to the center of the labyrinth, the music kicked it up a notch, the chants went into overdrive and I got to rest in the center, with my eyes closed, soaking in God’s goodness and grace and reflecting on the great sacrifice of the cross.  There was a peace that came over me.  I was truly “resting” in the presence of God. I could have stayed in the center of the labyrinth forever.

But I didn’t.

I made may way round and about and out again.

The way out was easier but the realities of what the weekend has in store started creeping back into my mind.

But I walked out having been blessed by God in the center of the labyrinth.

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