Prayer Labyrinth

I mentioned that two weeks ago I was teaching a class on hospitality for a wonderful group of people in Spring Arbor University’s MA in Spiritual Formation and Leadership program. The residency class was at the lovely Michindoh Conference Center.

Michindoh has a prayer labyrinth on the grounds, and since we all were there as a part of a spiritual formation program a lot of people in the cohorts taking the class couldn't wait to get out to the labyrinth. Apparently, there are prayer labyrinth junkies out there.

Sad to say this, but even though there is a prayer labyrinth on my own campus, I've never walked a prayer labyrinth. Oh, I've looked at and walked around plenty of prayer labyrinths, but I've never prayerfully walked my way through a labyrinth the way you're supposed to do.

So on my last day at Michindoh, during a time of silent retreat, I headed out to the prayer labyrinth. It was a damp, cold winter day. But I love weather, so damp, cold winter days are atmospheric to me. There is nothing I love more than being appropriately dressed on a cold winter day. I love the contrast of feeling snug and warm with the feeling of cold air on your face. Have you ever delighted in that feeling? Being outside on a cold day but being perfectly comfortable because you've nailed the clothing? Not too hot, not too cold. Perfected matched to the climate. Externally, the day seems forbidding and chilly, but you're walking around warm and contented. I love that feeling. That's the feeling I had walking out to the prayer labyrinth at Michindoh.

I reached the labyrinth and took a centering breath before starting.

I slowly walked the labyrinth saying the Jesus prayer all the way into the center. At the center I lingered, resting into silence. I exited the labyrinth bringing to mind the names and faces of all the people in my life I want to be available and present to. My family, co-workers, people I've been neglecting.

I loved the experience. I walked slowly back to the conference center, pausing for long minutes to watch a black and white spotted Downy Woodpecker. The two of us sat together, alone by the grey lake.

Finally, with a stilled, quiet heart I said good-bye and walked back into the world.

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