Enter a labyrinth from a distance

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If you read the word labyrinth what's coming to mind? Do you remember the first time you heard about a maze? Was it with Jim Henson and David Bowie in 1986? Was it when Daedalus built one for King Minos, the son of Zeus? Or was it in your church when a prayer walk was organized on a clear autumn night? Labyrinths have been found in Christian churches since the 4th century AD (Kern, 2000). One of the most famous is in the Basilica of St. Reparatus in Orleansville, Algeria. By 2021, mazes will be found in many churches across the United States. Many worship communities have built permanent structures out of brick or stone. In contrast, other mazes have been painted on canvas or bordered with candles or luminarias, and some communities have provided portable mazes that can be traced with a fingertip.

Many possibilities to "enter" a labyrinth

One theory suggests that early mazes were used as placeholders for a pilgrimage to the Holy Land when humans were unable to make the physical journey. The labyrinths in which Christians walk today are not a labyrinth. There are no wrong turns or dead ends; Instead, one path leads the pilgrims to conscious reflection, heightened mindfulness and ultimately a closer relationship with God. Praying a maze invites pilgrims to walk a path from the outside to the center and back, both physically and spiritually.

In times of peace, war, joy, grief, and even illness, people around the world have walked a maze and prayed. The use of the maze has led pilgrims to travel to places that are physically inaccessible. There have been a lot of restrictions on worship lately. And we learn new ways of being together, even if we are divided for reasons of public safety or distance. It is good that there are so many ways to "enter" a maze. Perhaps this practice can bring us into fellowship with saints who have prayed this way before us, those who pray this way today, and those who are to come and who will pray this way in the future.

There are many ways to use a maze as a spiritual practice. Sharon Ely Pearson (2006) presents a threefold path of purification, enlightenment, and union for pilgrims. Letting go (cleaning) is a "letting go" that occurs when worldly worries are resolved. Next there is the idea of ​​getting lighting in the middle. When pilgrims reach the center in a receptive and praying state, they can gain new insights. Integration or union, after all, is how the maze enables pilgrims to take responsibility for being grounded and putting ideas into practice when they are done with the walk.

Enter a labyrinth from a distance

  • Remember mazes connect You with people who have practiced this practice around the world and with people who have practiced this practice for hundreds of years. While you may be alone in this moment, you are never alone in your life – both God and others are always with you.
  • Hire intention for your time. Say a prayer before you start your journey. As you walk, meditate on a question, phrase, or even a single word. Many people say a word every step of the way while traveling. When you use a finger maze, people may think of the word with every breath they take.
  • Be attentive. numbers Attention the way your feet feel when you walk on the floor. How does your breathing change when you keep moving around the room? What do your eyes see when you keep turning in the same direction? How does your body feel in the chair with your finger circling every curve? Does your spine straighten or curve the longer you stay here?
  • Stay awake. Keep watching you travel out of the maze. Remember, once you get to the center, your journey is not complete. If you go through the maze as a repeated exercise, what was different for you this time? Think about how our habits can teach us new truths.
  • Reflect later. After walking, it may be time to log or process the wisdom you found along the way.
  • Partner up. Consider having a hiking partner or group. You can go separately and then connect to discuss your experience. This can also help with accountability.

Click here for a PDF with these suggestions for praying a maze.

Practice, repeat

Like most spiritual practices, the real power comes from paying attention and repetitive practice. So, come back to your walk often and stay awake to what God is showing you along the way.

Click here for a PDF with these suggestions for praying a maze.

* Feature photo by Fabrício Severo on Unsplash.

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