Life, throughout the ages, has metaphorically been viewed as a pilgrimage. The labyrinth mirrors this inner journey over and over again. We step onto the labyrinth’s singular path and begin the walk. We experience Purgation (shedding, letting go) so when we come to the center we are open to Illumination, guidance and inspiration of the Spirit. We leave the center and follow the path to the rim once more. This part of the walk symbolizes Union. We are returning to our lives to integrate what we have experienced through walking the labyrinth as living breathing prayer.
In her book, Praying the Labyrinth, Jill Geoffrion refers to the archetypal symbol as, “A beautiful spiritual tool–a pattern, an emblem, a walkway…” She shares in her introduction, “As I walked the labyrinth I felt deeply connected to a creative God whose energies resonated in my mind, my whole body, my emotions, and my memory.”
Several years ago I led a pilgrimage to Chartres Cathedral. The ancient stone labyrinth on the floor just inside the entrance to the great medieval church felt strangely familiar. I walked the path and contemplated the footsteps of countless pilgrims over the centuries who had circumnavigated the pathway before me. Each stone was imbued with prayer and for a time I was lifted into another realm, the realm of kindred spirits and ancestral spiritual presence.
I imagined the medieval world… another era when representations of the Sacred were visible everywhere. Icons were nailed to trees, coquille shells were left along the pilgrim roads throughout Europe so pilgrims would know the way. Entire towns, like Chartres, were engaged in myriad occupations and creative endeavors to build the glorious cathedrals throughout Europe, many still exist today. Stained glass windows depicting Biblical stories, the stars and planets, nature, and the saints and angels were crafted by nameless artisans. No signatures, no egos involved. All that mattered was that these creations glorified God and became true visual depictions of faith-filled stories and inspiration for a predominately illiterate population.
I have felt a deep personal call for some time to become a co-creator of a Creative and Spiritual Renaissance. Just as the Renaissance that began in Italy in the 14th century signaled how people were aching for beauty, new forms of creative expression, music, theater, poetry, and dance…. perhaps we are soulfully seeking new forms of worship, sacred art, and a surge of the Holy into our techno-based lives.
Here’s a very simple way to begin to spread hope, inspiration, and beauty wherever you may be.
Visual Prayer Tags
Go to your local office supply store and buy a box of 2″x 4″ shipping tags. Tear some beautiful images from magazines… whatever speaks to you of the Sacred… peace, harmony, nature, serenity. Glue an image to each tag. On the back of the tag write a favorite inspirational quote or a prayer something like…. “May you who have found this visual prayer be blessed today. May your heart feel hope and peace in this moment. Amen. From a kindred-pilgrim on life’s journey.”
Now the really fun part….. Put your visual prayer tags into a bag or your purse and carry them with you. Leave them in random places and trust they will be discovered by those who are in need of prayer and encouragement. Leave them in public restrooms, or beside the tip for a server after lunch, on the bus seat, or in the seat-back pocket on a plane…. you get the idea.
Visual prayer tags are only one small idea to begin a movement to spread hope and inspiration. If you’re longing for what I have mentioned here. Share your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions and let’s begin a return to creating tangible. visible, holy outrageous Sacred beauty. Let’s become conduits of hope and reminders that the Sacred lives and breathes in each of us.