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Yesterday afternoon, I made it to church as a thunderstorm rolled up.  Three of us quickly harvested kale before the the rumbles began.  We didn’t have time to do more because, obviously, we can’t slow down an incoming storm.  But we could deal with our jangled nerves and the stress of daily living.

In the fellowship hall, we walked the labyrinth.  It isn’t anything fancy.  This is a pattern and position we are testing out so my husband and I taped it out on the floor.

Among the three garden workers was an intense young adult.  She’s a chronic worrier who has problems making decisions.  Honestly, we are two peas in a pod (garden symbolism!).  I explained to her that when she walks the labyrinth, she can walk in taking stock of the troubles she carries with her.  Stop at each turn.  Breathe.  Contemplate God.  When she reaches the center, it she can make a longer pause and leave the problem with God.  Sure, she might still think about it but she no longer has to wrestle with it.  Then it is time to retrace the path and reenter the world.

Walking the twisting turning path of the labyrinth helps to slow you down.  It gives you time to contemplate and to listen not to your own shouting thoughts but for that quiet voice of God.  If you have a labyrinth in your area, make time to visit it.  It is an amazing tool.



The finger labyrinth at my church.

Last week, I wrote about using a set of prayer beads to help me focus when I pray. The problem is that I have an overly active mind – what the Buddhists call a monkey mind. My prayer beads give the monkey something to do so that I can take the time I need to pray and listen.

Another tool that is perfect for home use is a finger labyrinth. Our church has a finger labyrinth in the parlor off the sanctuary. This small stone carving sits on a table between two chairs. Whenever I use it, I place it in my lap and run one finger of my right hand through the curves as I pray. When the monkey is particularly boisterous, I trace the labyrinth with my left index finger. Since I’m right handed this takes just a wee bit more concentration.

Want to try this technique out? You don’t have to purchase a carving in wood or stone, instead print off one of these labyrinths.

This one if much like the finger labyrinth at my church. It is a common asymmetric pattern.

This is a duplicate of the Chartres labyrinth.

Personally, I like the combination of angels and curves in this particular pattern.

There are a wide variety of labyrinth patterns available online. Some are asymmetric like the one at my church. Others are symmetric. Just make sure that you are printing off a labyrinth and not a maze – a labyrinth has a single twisting path. There are no wrong turns. It is simply another way to release your day enough to pray.



Have a Mary Little Christmas

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