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Labyrinth {Practice}

“All that is really required in walking the labyrinth is to show up, place one foot in front of the other, and breathe”
-Melissa Gayle West
Living and working in the midst of ongoing injustice and discord takes a toll. The spirit grows weak, the heart fills with dismay, and the bones become out of joint. Exhaustion, disillusionment, and withdrawal create barriers to connection and compassionate action. We are, individually and collectively, frayed at the edges.
The labyrinth offers a refuge from a fractured lifestyle. At times mimicking spirals from nature, the labyrinth is an ancient pattern found in countless cultures from around the world. It forms a single circuitous path to a center. But unlike a maze, a labyrinth has no dead ends or surprises. Its purpose is not to confuse, but to calm.
Labyrinths are for everyone. A labyrinth can be traveled on foot—a kind of walking meditation—or on a smaller scale, followed with the finger (click HERE for a printable, PDF of a finger labyrinth). 
The spiritual pilgrimage of the labyrinth follows 3 movements:
  1. The Way In: Releasing/Purgation 
    Follow the path, be aware of things, thoughts, feelings you are holding on to or grasping. Open yourself to God and release all into God’s loving hands.
  2. In the Center: Receiving/Illumination 
    Spend as much time as you like in the center, in the light of God’s love and desire to be with you.
  3. The Way Out: Integrating/Union 
    As you exit, remain open to God and to God’s invitation to you. Listen for God’s voice, receiving what God desires to give you, allowing yourself to be rooted and grounded in Love.
While walking or tracing the labyrinth, feel free to meditate on a scripture verse, psalm, song, hymn or prayer (such as “Lead me” or “Be still and know that I am God”).  You can also choose to ask a question on the way in, ponder it at the center and listen for the answer on the way out.  Some like to pray for themselves on the way in, express gratitude at the center and pray for others on the way out.  Often, God’s own plan reveals itself to those who choose to devote this time to God.
One encouraging aspect of the labyrinth is that you can’t get lost.  You are going somewhere (the center where you pause to acknowledge that you have met with God) and you are returning to the life God gave you.  Sometimes the journey is winding and difficult—and there are no short cuts— but there is a Guide who is with you the whole way.
When walking a labyrinth, we move towards the center.  Colossians teaches us that God is the center of all things and in Him all things are held together. The labyrinth challenges the image of life as a lonely, hazardous journey through a maze.
The labyrinth engages our body and forces a movement from head to heart.  Someone said that bodies can synthesize what the head can only distinguish. Saint Augustine is often quoted as saying, “It is solved by walking.” Arthur Boers also teaches the focal practice of walking as a way to integrate heart and mind. Labyrinth walking has been called by those who practice it the “laying on of feet.”
The labyrinth can be walked alone or with others.  There is a unique poignancy when walking with a group.  One of the most common observations during the sharing time after a labyrinth walk is the realization that we are all on the same path, even if it looks like people are going in many directions.

Formed well to love well