I laid out a labyrinth behind our house, traced into a thick layer of bark mulch, currently outlined with stakes and little white plant tags. It’s a classic 7-circuit design that goes back centuries. A labyrinth is used for walking meditation, GREAT for someone who doesn’t easily sit still.
The first time I ever walked a labyrinth, I began with an enormous amount of skepticism. How could walking back and forth do anything for my spiritual life??? But there was something about the rhythm of footsteps, the simplicity of the path, and a minimal openness to God that brought me to my own center as I reached the center of the pattern and simply stood quietly for a while. It was as if I had left behind the distractions of daily life and found a calm within the center of God’s heart. Walking back out by the same path I felt a steadily building joy stayed with me for the rest of the day.
Every time I walk a labyrinth, the experience is different. I come with different questions, and I receive different insights. The invitation of the labyrinth in my backyard is like a friendly beckoning from the Spirit to come and spend time with God, even to start my day with walking prayer.
Today for the first time I actually took a wrong turn, and had to laugh as I realized that some industrious critter had dug a tunnel right through the pattern, and it looked every bit like the actual pathway! Maybe sometimes God just messes with us to mess with us! I think Jesus was sitting over on the terrace, chuckling with the chipmunk as I laughed at their clever joke.
When I get the pathway lined with stones, it will be harder for them to pull that stunt again! Then, who knows what they’ll cook up! It’s a delight to connect in this way. If you haven’t tried it before, there’s a larger one next to the Methodist Church and the Senior Center in Anacortes, always available to you. Or give me a holler and come over to see what you experience in your own walking meditation.
Jesus said to his friends, “I will not leave you orphaned, but I will send another Advocate to be with you…”
Around our nation families are making arrangements for the care of their children should the parents suddenly be taken away. Moms and dads are talking to their children to comfort them in this time of fear. “Don’t worry, little ones. Even if I go away suddenly, I’ve made arrangements for you. We’ve got legal papers drawn up, and our attorney will be there for you. She’s only a phone call away. She’ll be your advocate and comforter. We’ve given her instructions to share with you if we’re unable to do so. She’ll stand with you and speak on your behalf, and she’ll also help you to express yourself if you’re in trouble or danger. Don’t forget that you’ve got aunts and uncles, church grammas and grampas who will help you as you grow up. They know us really well, and you can trust them to guide you well. Even if we aren’t here to give you the hugs that you need, their arms will convey our love. We will not leave you orphanos. You are never alone. We love you more than life itself, and we carry you always in our hearts. And you know our love for you. Even if we seem far away, we are always in your heart, too.“
You may or may not be in imminent danger of being arrested, deported, incapacitated, or dying. But anyone who goes away from their loved ones for even a short period of time knows that it’s at those times when we share our most important values with those we love. We always want our loved ones to be aware of our love for them.
Jesus is no different. He shared as much as he could with his dear ones, and promised to send the Holy Spirit (Paraclete/Advocate/Comforter/Counselor) to us in his absence. This past Sunday we celebrated the pouring out of that Spirit upon “all flesh”. The Feast of Pentecost is marked as the birthday of the Church, when Jesus’ promise was fulfilled and continues to be fulfilled daily. When we feel abandoned, lonely, fearful, cut off or separated, even orphaned, this simple act of gathering together and sharing our stories of faith is a powerful witness to the way that Christ is present in our midst and in all the world as the Spirit of Love.
We are called to be the tangible presence of the Holy One, to be the aunts and uncles, the advocates and comforters, the teachers and counselors for those who yearn for connection and community. YOU are the Body of Christ, co-Creators and stewards of creation, conveying warmth, light and power in the fire of the Spirit.
Veni Sancte Spiritus. Come, Holy Spirit.