Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Labyrinth and Prayer

On Friday night, we offered our candlelit labyrinth experience for the last time this Advent. It was the perfect night--about 75 degrees, no wind (unlike the week before, when the temperature had plunged to 55 degrees, and it was so windy that only half the candles stayed lit).

I walked the labyrinth, and my mind immediately went to prayer. Later, I thought about how easy it is for me to pray in the labyrinth, and how my mind stays focused in a way that it doesn't in any other setting.

I've tried sitting still and meditating; I never got to the point where my mind was quiet. I've tried lying in corpse pose after a rigorous yoga workout; I kept looking at my watch. In the middle of the night, when I wake up worried and unable to sleep, I try to pray, but my mind always races back to my worries.

But in the labyrinth, my mind goes immediately to prayer. I begin with prayers of gratitude, deep and profound thank yous. I move to asking for help for those who need it, both people I know and people on a national level (no matter how I feel about various world leaders, I always pray for their health and wisdom). And rarely does my mind go racing away.

Of course, sometimes I'm done with the intense part of prayer, and my mind goes onward. On Friday, I solved a poem that had been percolating. Here, too, I'm amazed at how natural and easy it is. No agonizing, no whining from my brain: just "Stitch this part to that part and then the poem works."

Maybe I should walk a labyrinth more often. One of my friends walks the labyrinth several times a week, in the morning, at sunrise. She seems to be one of the most level-headed people I know.

If you want to walk a labyrinth and need to find one in your neighborhood, go to this part of the Labyrinth Society website.

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