...Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak...those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:29-31
A labyrinth is a walking meditation that is based on a circular pattern of paths that interrupt and change direction, doubling back on some of the same views but from a different distance from the center. Many European churches and cathedrals have labyrinths within their walls, or in adjoining courtyards. Some American churches have followed suit, providing outdoor labyrinths for the community to use.
The labyrinth can be a symbolic journey of moving towards the sacred center, and carrying that energy back into the world. But unlike the trip down the aisle to the altar, it is not the shape of a cross; rather, it is a series of indirect paths that fill in the gaps around the shape of the cross.
This is different from a maze, where one spends the bulk of the time being lost, and having no sense of direction or center.
Our lives are a series of journeys that change direction by circumstance or intention, but seen in the perspective of moving toward centering they can form a circle. Our lives outside the labyrinth might indeed be a maze, where confusion and happenstance rule. But by positioning ourselves in the labyrinth, we can be part of an ordered flow of movement towards what sustains us, and then bring that back out to the world.
Walking has seldom felt comfortable to my joints, even after hip replacements and revisions. But taking a series of short walks towards a goal, where every arc and segment has meaning, is a physical and mental challenge with which I can identify. The center is always in sight, providing a stability and calm to the whims of direction. I love the image of God being in the center, and of many feet having gone before me on this journey.
Because we often think of God in stillness, it is refreshing to remember that God is with us in our movements. Many cultures have dances that celebrate their spiritual and sacred beliefs, and it is helpful to resonate with that kind of worship.
Prayer: God of my feet, bring me close to you as I choose my steps. God of my eyes, let me see you at the center of all that I do. God of my bones, help me to move as you created me to move, in joy and and strength. God of my soul, keep me centered as I am trying to take you with me to the world. Thank you for the paths that others have made in their journeys to you, and help me to recognize them as I walk. Amen.