Spiritual Practice: Praying a Labyrinth

2014 448

Review: Wow, look how far we’ve come already! We’ve done The Examen, Silence and Solitude, Body Listening and Lectio Divina. I’m really enjoying using Jan Johnson’s book Meeting God in Scripture: A Hands-On Guide to Lectio Divina. Let me know if you practiced Lectio and how it went.

Today let’s talk about Praying a Labyrinth. This is a fun one and it’s quite profound. A labyrinth is not a maze where you can get lost, but it kind of looks like one. Labyrinths come in different configurations and can be found in interesting places. They are often found at spiritual retreat centers, and some churches have them, some churches even have portable roll-out Labyrinths.

But here’s the fun part: try googling “labyrinths near me.” Once I was walking in the desert and found a HUGE labyrinth. I have since visited it many times. Someone took the time to create and maintain it. Amazing. One of our local parks has a beautiful labyrinth. The most interesting place I’ve seen a labyrinth is under a freeway overpass!

So, when you find one, how do you pray it? Well, there are as many ways as there are people. You have to try a few ways and see what works for you. I will often pray out all the things that are bothering me as I wind my way toward the center of the labyrinth. When you get to the center, which takes a while, so don’t rush it, there is a God space. I think of it as the goal, or center, a place of unity with the divine. I like to try and leave my worries there. Then, on the way out, I think of all I have to be grateful for, for there are many things. This makes me a different person with a new perspective when I leave my burdens in the hands of someone bigger than me, and with gratefulness on my tongue.

IMG_6433
You can even walk a labyrinth with friends!

Here are some other ways to pray a labyrinth adapted by Lana Miller from Soul Shaper by Tony Jones. 

1. Ask God a question upon entering and then listen for an answer.  For example:  Ask God what he wants to tell you and listen for an answer.

2. Pray for yourself on the way in, stop to experience God’s love in the center, and pray for others on the way out (or vice versa).

3. Recite the Lord’s Prayer as you walk.  (Instead, you may recite some familiar prayer or scripture.  Repeat it as you walk.)

The interesting thing about walking a labyrinth is that just when you think you are getting closer to God, you move away. Isn’t that just like life? It’s a journey, a metaphor, a pilgrimage on the road less traveled.

Now, you try it. Track down a labyrinth near you and take a walk. Let me know what you think! Enjoy.

Spiritual Practice: Lectio Divina

little-church

Review of Body Listening: How did it go for you? I’m glad to say that my eye twitching resolved in about three days — so grateful. My break from Facebook was key so I’m glad I listened.

Today will talk about one of my favorite Spiritual Practices, Lectio Divina, which is Latin for Divine Reading. This practice comes to us from the Benedictines. In its traditional form, Lectio Divina has four separate steps: reading, reflection, response, rest. It’s more about listening than reading. You can use this spiritual practice with the Bible or any holy book, or even with poetry. To demonstrate I’m going to use a beautiful poem by ee cummings called, I Am a Little Church.

You can google Lectio Divina and find a lot of ways to do it, but I’ll share an easy and fun way. You can do this in a group or alone; I’ve done it both ways. If you are in a group, you can speak the word, or invitation aloud at the end of each reading.

The first step in Lectio Divina is to read the passage slowly, meditatively, perhaps read it out loud.

Let’s try it together:


i am a little church (no great cathedral)

far from the splendour and squalor of hurrying cities

– i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest

i not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;

my prayers are prayers of the earth’s own clumsy striving

(finding and losing and laughing and crying) children

whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around them surges a miracle of unceasing

birth and glory in death and resurrection:

over my sleeping self float flaming symbols

of hope, and I wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church (far from the frantic

world with its rapture and anguish) at peace with nature

– i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;

i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring, i lift my diminutive spire to

merciful Him Whose only now is forever:

standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence

(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)

During the second reading listen for a word or phrase that sticks out to you and reflect on it for a moment. You can even speak that word or phrase aloud.

During the third reading listen for an invitation from the passage. Something you might want to keep or do or try in response to the passage.

Then rest. Let the passage sink in and stay with you throughout the day.

Try it before reading on!

Let me know what word or phrase stood out to you.

For me, it was the line: “over my sleeping self float flaming symbols

of hope, and I wake to a perfect patience of mountains”

628796

With the world as crazy as it is, this image if very comforting to me right now. I love to think of hope floating over me as I sleep. I need to reflect on the perfect patience of mountains. I can see mountains out the window from where I am typing. They have lived through and survived so many things — a testament that we will live and survive the changes in our government and world. I needed that assurance today.

By the way, I want to introduce you to a book I’m using to help me practice Lectio Divina. It’s by one of my favorite authors, Jan Johnson. If you want to use Lectio with scripture, this book will be a great help.

Let me know if these practices are helping you!

Photo Credit, Little Church , Mountains