Tales of the Labyrinth pt 2

Imago Scriptura

…another time did come.  We were given an hour before lunch today to reflect on how the Spirit spoke to us this week.  So, after the experience this morning with the Labyrinth, I knew it was time to go back.  What I was desiring as I walked over there was to “feel” it deeply.  I wanted to be solely focused on that time.  I took a cue from a new friend here from when I saw her walk it earlier in the week and I wanted to do the same.  So I started walking in on the shaded black mulch and felt so very connected to the path as I felt the wood and mulch on my bare feet.  I had my hands wide open as I walked and felt a warmth in my palms almost as if someone was holding my hands.

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Tales from the Labyrinth pt 1

Imago Scriptura

As I’ve done every morning while at this conference, I took a morning Labyrinth prayer walk.  This morning, I was walking as I have been doing but I saw something different.  As I passed one of the iris plantings, I noticed a few new blooms but they weren’t purple – they were orange and yellow!  Wow!  So, I had to stop and take a picture.  I didn’t have my DSLR with me so I just took this picture with my iPhone.  However, the first one I took had my finger over part of the lens, the second cut off part of the upper flower, and so  I had to get the third shot just right (and I didn’t even do that – the flowers are out of focus).  So I got the shot (I thought)  and was getting ready to head…

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The Labyrinth’s Work

Standing at the labyrinth arch, I always hesitate. I know I’m about to do something holy, something hard and holy, something expansive. The small wooden arched frame strains to hold up the heavy grasping honeysuckle vine. It has taken years for the vine to conquest the lattice sides, once covered by paint, now faded and worn. But, the weary looking frame has done its job by guiding the wild native vine to make an opening, a way in, a way into the holy.

Taking a few deep cleansing breaths, I reach up to brush the small metallic wind chime hanging down from the top of the arch and let its gentle chime announce my entrance. I’m always surprised how easy the second step is and wonder why the first step was so challenging. All I really have to do is put one foot in front of the other, stay between the limestone rock circular lines, and choose one burden at a time to fall off and out of me onto the path as I pass.

The winding circuitous path is just narrow enough from side to side to keep me focused on staying within its boundaries. Yet, the frontward distance seems ever lengthening, ever expanding inviting me, almost pulling me forward. Behind me, the path also lays long and limitless with only my burdens marking the distance.

The longer I walk, the lighter I walk. Lips and feet now in sync, my forward movement becomes a prayer. The center can’t be too far now. My heart tightens and releases as I struggle to lift the last few secret hidden burdens and drop them along the labyrinth like a trail of dense, dead rocks, the last few the heaviest of all.

The center is the holiest part of the labyrinth. In the center of the center a sacred tree stands with roots penetrating deep and wide into the earth reaching places dark and mysterious while the tree’s trunk, branches, and leaves stretch upward and outward reaching limitlessly toward the sky. I touch the trunk and close my eyes. Deep brown red flows before my closed eyes. I am grounded.

Sitting on one of the tree stumps, I settle down to see what is left of me, now that I’m temporarily empty of all those heavy burdens, which are strewn like bread crumbs along the labyrinth’s circular path. I sink into the center under that sacred tree, empty and open. Time becomes inconsequential; the air feels heavy and sweet. The Spirit moves and fills. Something within me shifts, sometimes a flutter of insight dances by, sometimes a warm peace stirs. A healing infusion of presence soaks in. I’m full and ready.

I don’t even have to think about putting one step in front of the other. Now, I’m leading with my heart, not my feet. I approach that last heavy burden I dropped now sitting on the path where I unloaded it. I invite it along for the walk. Then, I move toward the next burden. When I dropped it, all I felt was its denseness, its dead weight. But as I walked by and invited it and eventually all the others along, they became the beautiful image of my mother or my friend, a work puzzle, an opportunity, a creative challenge, a new point of view.

I giggle. No one else is around as I lightly follow the limestone layers, first this way and then that, so I sing. Out loud, I sing what I see on a rock, how I’ve got peace like a river flowing down those long narrow paths. Love like a river, joy like a river flowing round and round in my soul.

Approaching the wooden arch, I touch the chime to announce my exit of the labyrinth and my entrance back into the world.  I know I’m about to do something holy, something hard and holy, something expansive.

Rev. Tina Newberry