We were talking about labyrinths on Twitter the other day; what they are used for and our different experiences of this ancient prayer practice. I think this definition is spot on in my book:
“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.” – Jenn Giles Kemper in Sacred Ordinary Days. It’s:
- A whole person process: you bring all of you- body,mind, soul and spirit to this walking meditation
- You follow a unicursal path; one way in, one way back, unlike a maze which is deliberately designed to catch you out. It’s not possible to get lost in a labyrinth, (though I’ve been known to come pretty close at times!)
- This path, and your way along it, mirrors the “winding and circuitous journey of faith,” the stops and starts, ups and downs, the level plains, deep valleys, those mountain -top moments, uphill struggles; those times when you swerve round a corner, believing your destination is in sight, only to find yourself wandering off the way you came.
- For it’s a process as much as a destination and you, the pilgrim, are invited to participate in that process. You’re on a journey to the Divine centre, yet you’re travelling with the Divine, with God, the Spirit, higher power. You’re walking to God and with God.
- Even if at times you may not actually feel that to be so, and goodness knows, there have been times when I’ve been in a foul mood and unwilling to engage with my travelling companion. (Just like life really).
For some light relief and to find out more about labyrinths and prayer, here’s a link to some of my old blogs. As you’ll see, there’s no limit to the different ways of making and walking a labyrinth: large, small, made from stones, bricks, sheeting; finger labyrinths; online, I’ve even seen one mown into grass and walked another surrounded by office workers in the midst of the City of London.
The picture above is a mini labyrinth I made this week as a contribution to a church pilgrimage-themed day. Since then, I’ve realised that it’s chock full of imagery that’s very significant to me and which I’ll share a little about in Part 2.