Kindred in Christ,
This Sunday is the first Sunday of Lent. This is a forty-day period of introspection and preparation as we journey toward the cross and Easter. Each year we are invited to focus on our inward journey to our center and back again. Lent is also symbolic of the time Jesus was tempted in the wilderness and struggled in his own human vulnerability. During this season, I’d like to invite you to consider your own human journey and great need for God by joining me in the practice of a prayer labyrinth. I offer you the picture of the labyrinth above to use as a tool for prayer at least once a week during Lent—perhaps designate the same day each week and incorporate it as a morning or evening routine.
This ancient method of prayer labyrinth is a perfect metaphor for our human journey through life. If you take a moment to visually follow the labyrinth’s intricate design, you may initially perceive that the path seems incredibly random. But look longer. Yes, there are twits and turns, blind curves followed by relatively straight stretches, and then more twists and turns, but unlike a maze with dead ends, there is only one path to the center and back again. You can liken walking a labyrinth to trusting you are being Divinely cared for and guided though life’s seemingly random events. And perhaps one lesson of the labyrinth is that we need to keep moving in order to be guided by God.
There is no right or wrong way to “walk” (or trace with your finger) the labyrinth. But here is some suggested guidance:
The walk from the entrance of the labyrinth to the center
This phase of the labyrinth walk is often called “releasing.” (The classic term is “purgation.”) Let go of what burdens you. Let go of the details of your life. This is an act of shedding thoughts and emotions. Allow your mind to empty and become quiet.
The time spent at the center
This phase of the labyrinth walk is often called “receiving.” (The classic term is “illumination.”) Spend some time and be open to what you may hear, feel, or experience. Stay there as long as you like. The center is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.
The walk from the center of the labyrinth to the exit
This phase of the labyrinth walk is often called “returning.” (The classic term is “union.”) Express gratitude for the walk and for the insights you received, whether you are aware of these insights or not, at this point. Be open to thoughts or intuitions concerning how you might integrate the labyrinth experience into your daily life as you leave the sacred space of the labyrinth.
If you add to these steps some time for preparation before beginning a walk (e.g. reading some scripture, reading a meditation or a poem, reading a script for the walk, etc.) and some time following the walk for integrating your experience (e.g. journaling, doodling, sitting quietly beside the labyrinth, etc.) you really have a five-part walk.
My prayer is that this will be just one way we journey closer to the Divine and our true selves this season. Also, join us this Sunday as we begin our Lenten worship series, The Path Back to You. See you on FB Live!
– Rev. Paul Ortiz