Let’s face it, we all get into spiritual ruts when it feels like we’ve been on a diet of gluten-free for days on end. We don’t really taste or see what we’re eating. It’s boring. We don’t pay attention to the experience of eating.
I love what Mark Batterson writes about this:
“The key to spiritual growth is developing healthy and holy routines. They are called spiritual disciplines. But once the routine becomes routine, you need to disrupt the routine via a change of pace or change of place. Why? Because sacred routines can become empty rituals if you forget why you started doing them in the first place.”
I would add that sometimes you need to change not just the pace or the place, but also the particular practice. So today I thought I’d write about a “spirit stretch” that some of you may not be familiar with – the labyrinth.
“HOLD THE PHONE!” some of you are shouting at the computer.
I know, I know, those of you like me, who squirm a little when it comes to the gentler, candle-light-y expressions of faith, may want to put your hands over your ears and sing “Lalalala” instead of reading this post, but give it a chance.
The Labyrinth isn’t so much a discipline as a facilitator. Kind of like a trainer is at the gym. The Labyrinth is a meandering, but purposeful path – first towards our center, Christ, and then back out into the world.
My friend Jill Hartwell Geoffrion has written and taught much on the labyrinth. She writes:
In A.D. 324 Christians placed a labyrinth on the floor of their church in Algiers. Although Christians must have been using the labyrinth earlier, this is the first historical record we have of the Christian use of the labyrinth. Since that time labyrinths have been prayed, studied, danced, traced and drawn as Christians have sought to use this spiritual tool to draw closer to God.
Using the labyrinth involves moving one’s body and opening one’s heart to Jesus.
Anne Grizzle, who built the retreat home and the labyrinth I visited this summer, writes:
“Through the labyrinth, walkers open themselves to some of the same experiences that pilgrims on longer journeys enjoy. Labyrinth walkers take a physical journey, but the real journey, as with any pilgrimage, happens within the soul landscape.”
I love this picture with that shaft of sunlight!
- As I walk in towards the center with my hands open, I pray about what I need to let go of, whether that’s specific sins I need to confess, or idols I need to renounce.
- In the center I rest in God’s presence, reassured that I am forgiven, loved and cherished.
As I walk the path out, I am open to how God might have me respond to what He’s revealing about Himself and myself.
Jill again writes:
The word “labyrinth” is not found in the Bible, but themes of a following God’s way, spiritual journeys, and enjoying God’s presence—all central to labyrinth experiences—are found throughout Scripture. Two verses that can be used while praying the labyrinth are, “You show me the path of life, In your presence there is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11) and Jesus’ words, “I am the way, the truth and the life…” (John 14:6).
If you want to find a labyrinth somewhere near you, check out this website, but if the labyrinth isn’t your thing, a prayerful soul ramble in the beauty of this day is great too!