Confirmation Instruction Lesson 8
We Explore Prayer as We Walk the Labyrinth
As we begin our adult relationships with God through prayer, walking the labyrinth can introduce us to another type of prayer - prayer in motion, instead of prayer in absolute stillness.
Walking the labyrinth is also an excellent way to begin longer forms of prayer: the walk itself takes from 30 to 45 minutes, a longer time period than most of our students have spent in prayer.
We walk the labyrinth in silence, respecting one another's private time in prayer.
Each person reacts to the labyrinth differently. Don't expect it to be a good experience for everyone, or to be a moving experience the first time. Some people do require absolute stillness in mind and body for prayer, and they continue to find the labyrinth uncomfortable.
But the experience is valuable for everyone in that it does broaden our experience of prayer, giving us all a new perspective on what prayer might be.
Labyrinths may be found at Grace Cathedral (Episcopal) in San Francisco CA; Trinity Episcopalian in Santa Barbara, CA; Christ the King Lutheran in Torrance, CA; St. Paul's Cathedral in Boston; the Church of St. Andrew in Marblehead, MA; Resurrection Lutheran in Dublin, CA; Peace Lutheran in Austin, TX; Holy Trinity Lutheran in Hickory, NC; St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church in Bakersfield, CA; and Peace Lutheran in Danville, CA, among other congregations. Your local Episcopalian diocese may be able to tell you which labyrinth is closest to you.
Or check the labyrinth locator at the website of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.
For those of you in Europe, many of the medieval cathedrals were built with labyrinths for those believers who were unable to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
If you cannot arrange a field trip to one of these labyrinths, making your own labyrinth from flour or chalk might be an excellent class project to share with the congregation. The measurements and history may be found in Walking a Sacred Path, (Riverhead Books, New York, NY, 1995) by Lauren Artress.
There are three movements to the labyrinth, and you are free to make of them whatever you like:
Please use these suggestions if you find them appropriate. You might want to select one from each movement and try it, or create your own rhythm to each of the movements. Using all the suggestions at once is overwhelming.
1. Discard our many roles (mother, father, wife, husband, sister, brother, student, accountant, teacher, pastor) and simply say "I am."
2. Leave the noise, demands, voices around us, and enter a soothing silence.
3. Unload our guilt, resentment, self-hatred, failures, depression, shame, and forgive ourselves.
4. Set aside all the things we think we want and need, hoping to find what God wants.
5. Leave the familiar world of day-to-day living for a different experience.
6. Choose to ignore all our ideas about God and theology, and return to the beginning of our faith.
7. Reject the anxious desire to get the most out of the labyrinth, simply becoming open and expectant.
1. Take the risk of recognizing an emptiness within ourselves that only love can fill.
2. Enjoy the silence, stillness, waiting, and the simplicity of nothing happening.
3. Take time to listen to an inner voice or to nothing or to mystery.
4. Contemplate the blessing of the hidden nature of God who cannot be fully known, cannot be manipulated, cannot be made into an idol, cannot be pinned down, contained or tamed.
5. Consider the possibility of the new, the miraculous, the transfiguring entering our lives.
6. Remember that the Holy Spirit, like the wind, blows where she will.
1. Decide to continue a journey deeper into the love of Christ.
2. Refuse to take up again the guilt and hatred of the past.
3. Seek a simpler and more focused life.
4. Rest in the knowledge of God's unconditional love.
5. Move away from anxiety toward peace and faith.
6. Seek the direction of the Holy Spirit.
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