Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Creating the Braided Labyrinth--an Essay in Words

To see photos of this process, go to yesterday's entry. I wanted to elaborate on some of the points.

One of the members of the retreat planning team, Laura, had experienced this at a women's retreat, and wanted to try it with our group. We had been conducting our Sending Service at the Lutheridge Labyrinth, which is not very accessible--lots of steps to navigate before you're down on the old tennis court site that's been transformed into a Labyrinth.

The team became concerned that there would be no way for us to create enough braids during the retreat, so some of us braided in advance. We arrived at the retreat with piles of braid and rope and ribbon, in case we still didn't have enough.

On the first night of the retreat, everyone got three strips of material (3 inches by 36 inches). On one strip, we asked for what we need. On another, we confessed our shortcomings. On the third, we wrote what we were thankful for.

We were supposed to turn to a neighbor to discuss these things. I think it would have worked as well if we had kept these private. But I tend to not be a small groups person, even as I understand their value.

Then we braided our strips together and started attaching them (using safety pins).

We had a braiding station open throughout the retreat. People dropped by and wrote prayers on strips. People braided. People attached the braids together. People seemed to love the braiding process.

I worried at first, because my braids were so big and loose. Some people braided the cloth into tight ropes. But it all worked out, as it so often does (life lesson here!).

On the last afternoon of the retreat, Laura and I gathered the ropes of braids and headed to the chapel. Someone had installed tiles in the past year, which made it easier to measure, count, and lay out the labyrinth. We did a less complicated labyrinth shape than the Chartres (or medieval shape). Go here for a picture on the Wikipedia site.

We had more braids than we needed, so we looped them around the chapel. We did our Sending Service, surrounded by braids of prayer.

Laura took the extra braids with her to use with her woman's group. Lutheridge kept the braided rope to use later in the summer.

What I love about this is the symbolism and the possibilities. I'll blog about those possibilities later in the week--but suffice it to say, this process is a way for people to experience the labyrinth with very little cost involved. And since it doesn't have to be permanent, it means that the labyrinth experience can be part of a much wider variety of possibilities.

No comments: