I am revisiting places where I have experienced Grace as a Lenten practice this year, reminding myself of ways in which I have been met by the Holy One in the past. I began in reclaiming periods of silence last week, and am finding that both the struggle to become and then to stay silent is a very powerful practice in my ability to pay attention. This week I am adding another practice which has taken me into deep reflections — walking the Labyrinth.
The three movements evoke different feelings to bring into my prayer. The way into the Labyrinth was called “Purgation” by the pilgrims of the Middle Ages. I have experienced it as the way of letting go, and there is always solemnity and sadness with it. It is the place where in the silence my actions, thoughts and feelings that block Grace become very clear; resentments, anxieties, disappointments, griefs, regrets all rise to awareness to be acknowledged. This movement of the Labyrinth allows the Grace of Forgiveness to flow into my heart, as though it were cleansing the space of my being for more room for the Holy. When my life had a different order of days, I visited the Labyrinth early on the day in which I was anticipating being at a contentious convocation, wanting my own consciousness to be as clear and as open-hearted as was needed for the conversation at hand.These days of Lent I will walk it daily, in anticipation of whatever might appear in the unfolding of the day
In reaching the middle of the Labyrinth, I pray for Illumination, or as the those seekers did in long ago the desert, in expectation and wonder, I ask for a Word. “Speak, O Holy One, your beloved is listening!” In the silence and the waiting, I recognize again my restlessness, the way that my adrenaline is calibrated to high speed and action, rather than stillness and attentiveness. Sometimes it is hard to wait for the Holy to speak; I practice waiting in patience. Each Labyrinth inhabits a different location, each one has a different vista, and I need to find a point of focus as I wait. In the cathedral it is the Chartres blue window, high up in the right transept. In the oak bosque, it is the offering of peace cranes in the tree just beyond. On the hill at the beach, it is the rolling ocean, a reminder of the deep, deep love of God. In my back yard it is the white stone Celtic cross that convenes the remembrance of faith traditions past with my present day emerging and transforming faith in this moment, this place. I wait for a Word of Grace.
The pathway out is one of Union, or letting the Word which I have received become part of my life in the world to which I go to love and to serve. I now have a sense of peace and hope. I have placed myself where I have known Grace to be found, and I have, each time, a sense of a next right step, maybe only a tiny one, but a sense of the Presence of Grace in my life and being. I find in this movement the most gratitude, the most joy and the most eagerness to get moving into the things I am called to do and to be. I have once again been reminded that i do not journey alone or without purpose. There is One who walks beside me saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”
I notice that the practice of silence with which I began Lent in Grace is a companion to my Labyrinth walking. And so this week my silent meditation moves me into the Labyrinth, where the Graceful One awaits me.