Walking with the Lord…

Labyrinth walking

Labyrinth walking

It’s an amazing coincidence that I’m now to the point in the “prayer exploration” journey here on MIP where it’s time to discuss Body Prayer and today is the 17th anniversary of the day I had my first heart attack due to Prinzmetal Angina.

It may be more than coincidence.

Body prayer consists of a whole list of prayer practices involving the movement of your body to facilitate new ways of understanding God and communicating with him. In HeartPaths we moved our hands for one prayer time; walked a labyrinth in another; prayed the Lord’s Prayer accompanied by certain postures for certain phrases of it; and examined pictures of ourselves growing up to learn more about Body Prayer. While each of these was new to me and each was meaningful, I became fascinated with one practice that demands a little explanation.

For those not familiar with labyrinths, they are NOT mazes. Mazes are designed to trick the human mind; labyrinths only have one path that leads to the center of the labyrinth and then another path or the same path back out. It simply has a lot of turns in it similar to a maze. Labyrinth walking has been around for centuries and the most famous is in the cathedral at Chartres, France. Many new labyrinths are patterned after that one.

Labyrinth paths are now being painted onto canvas so that churches can simply roll them up and put them away when not in use.  Some churches lay them out during Lent and Advent and may even play music in the labyrinth area. Labyrinths can also be found outdoors. One that fascinates me is one where the path is marked by field stones. I’m already getting ideas in my head for how to incorporate a field stone labyrinth into our lot at the Reserve!

First Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth, TX (FPCFW) is building an outdoor labyrinth in a new meditation garden. This is exciting since FPCFW already has two canvas labyrinths that are maintained and furnished by a “Labyrinth guild.” The labyrinth guild members even undergo training about the use, preparation and care of the labyrinth.

For instance, the day we walked the smaller of the two labyrinths at FPCFW, the room was dimly lit and simple votive candles were dotted around the room. Chairs also bordered the labyrinth at various points, enough for each person about to walk the labyrinth. In addition classical music softly played in the background. A member of the labyrinth guild read an introduction and gave some simple instructions about labyrinth walking. As people walk the labyrinth, a few of the labyrinth guild members sit off to a side and pray for those walking the labyrinth.

For instance, outside the entrance of the labyrinth was a round table with a larger center candle lit and some unlit votive candles. We were told to sit in the chairs and prepare our hearts for prayer. When we felt led to begin, we moved to this round table and lit an unlit votive candle from the larger center candle. Then we formed a line at the entrance of the labyrinth and waited until the person ahead of us had reached a predetermined point in the labyrinth.

We were given instructions on how to work around people obstructing our path and what to do when reaching the center of the labyrinth. Most of us stepped to one side of the center and prayed a bit before heading out of the labyrinth again. When finished walking the labyrinth, we were invited to take our lit votive candle back to the circle where we journal about our prayer experiences and continue praying until all had gathered in the circle.

Here is a little bit about what I experienced while walking the labyrinth:

“I started too soon! That is probably representative of my character–I am eager to jump into a lot of things…without properly preparing myself. In so doing I am probably making my “path” more difficult. Perhaps I am not asking God to prepare me…

“As I passed others on different parts of the labyrinth, I wondered, “How many times am I near others, feel close to them, but don’t reach out to them to hug them or smile at them?”…

“At one point I got off the way out of the labyrinth because of crossing paths with another person and I realized how easily we can get off the path to God. It helped if I took a moment to look at the center of the labyrinth to find where I needed to be again. As Christians, we sometimes should stop and look to “our center,” Jesus, to find our bearings again.”

The entire walk was meaningful for me as well as the other Body Prayer practices and I realized I have a rather large “disconnect” between my body and soul and that’s another “sermon” for another time, but if I hadn’t tried all of these practices, I probably wouldn’t know that about myself and it wouldn’t be transforming who I am, body and soul, at this time. Perhaps the longest lasting lesson from Body Prayer is that all I do with my body can be an offering to God if I just slow down and remind myself to do that.

Some studies show that when we slow down, movement-wise, we are actually more efficient because we can anticipate obstacles that may impede our progress. Slowing down is counter-cultural in modern America, but then again, so was Jesus and so, slowing down is probably the best thing we could do for our “walk with the Lord.”

How’s your walk? Slow? Hurried? Non-existent? Stumbling? Need a road map or GPS? (I now refer to GPS as my God-Positioning System!)

Literally walk with the Lord today and see if the “pathway” becomes a bit clearer.

Friday’s Post: Hangin’ Out with Monks

You Might Also Like: Who’s Your Guide?; My Thoughts Are Your Thoughts?; and Coming to My Senses

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 18th, 2016 at 10:50 am and is filed under God stuff. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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