Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tales From the Labyrinth—Middles

“Are We THERE Yet?”
This Labyrinth of mine.  It’s quite something.  I’ve patterned her after the Labyrinth found in the Chartres Cathedral, just outside Paris.  Though many Labyrinths date back over 5000 years, this particular style was first used during the time of the crusades between 1095 and 1201 A.D.

The crusades were a time when there was an intense struggle for control of the Holy Land.  A time when many were not able to make the journey, so Labyrinths were built (mostly in cathedrals) for people to walk, in order to metaphorically participate in the spiritual pilgrimages of the day.

As I have been building this sacred path in my back yard, I have reflected on how similar my time is to the time the Chartres was built.  Listening to NPR on my car radio, as I travel to buy the smooth gray-blue stones, purchase gardening equipment of all sorts and groceries to feed the groups who’ve shown up to help, I hear tales of conflict and great human tragedy in the Middle East.  I have felt so sorrowed for the brothers and sisters of my human family, who are suffering there, in so many ways and for so very long.  I feel a deep wish that I could do something to help ease the burdens of both sides, but here, I work away in my own space.

Yes, this path in my back yard is quite something; and here I am today, with such similar world circumstances, to the times of the crusades and so little changed beyond surface comforts.  The human heart, I think, is ageless.  This may be why we continue the struggle.  

I believe it is advanced work, this path of life, to balance the desire and struggle for attaining or maintaining what is outer-surface with the pilgrimages among the inner-disciplines.  Walking a Labyrinth is a wonderful opportunity for working with both simultaneously.  Using the outer gesture of taking each step, one by one and surrendering both thought and action to our source, our center, is a unique approach to modern meditation.

Last week I was asked to speak in my church.  The topic I had been assigned was called:  “The Power of Prayer” (of course).  So, here I was building a literal walking prayer-wheel in my back yard; working in the soil, as I contemplated what I would say in speaking to a local group of brothers and sisters.  

I thought of the words of a female leader in my church, Cheiko Okazaki, who wrote once of the founding prophet Joseph Smith.  He was a boy of 14 years old, who circled his way through a grove of trees, to a place he thought would be a good spot to pray to God with questions about his faith.  He had a Divine visitation there, a revelatory experience, that Cheiko was referring to when she said:

“We don't have to be in a sacred place for spiritual things to happen.  The Sacred Grove was just a stand of trees before Joseph Smith walked into it.  It became sacred because of what happened there…”  and then she asks the esoteric question:  “Where is your Sacred Grove?  It could even be in you car, if that's were you spend a lot of time thinking through problems and attuning your heart sensitively to the Spirit.”

During my talk, I also quoted another female leader, who was also one of my personal young women’s advisors, when I was 16 years old and wife to one of the current twelve apostles in the mormon church, Patricia Holland also said:

“We have to pray as the ancients prayed. We are women now, not children, and are expected to pray with maturity. The words most often used to describe urgent, prayerful labor are:   wrestle, plead, cry, and hunger...In some sense, prayer may be the hardest work we will ever be engaged in, and perhaps it should be.” 

In contemplating these women’s words, I added in my remarks that:   

“I believe that at our life’s end, the cumulative of our prayers, over the days and years of our sojourn here, will be reflected upon as one of the most powerful aspects of our mortal experience...of our humanity.”

Working from dawn to dusk, over the past seven weeks, I have mused at the process of building an ancient path of prayer and meditation in my back yard; of going to this type of length, in order to create a sacred space for the inner-discipleships of the human heart.  The events that have already taken place here, the many who have showed up to help, the gifts each one has given of time, attention and attunement, have already given this place a sacred feel. 
I’ve been reflecting this past week that during this, the second and middle phase of building a Labyrinth, the process of constructing this path is also mirroring the actions of pennetant souls of ages past, who showed their pioety and dedication to changing human behavior, by changing the path of the heart, with the practice of walking the Labyrinths of old on their knees. 

I smile to myself, each time I stand up, taking to heart that the work being done on this path right now requires each of us to physically kneel, as we add the twist and turns that will eventually take us to the center.  The center of a Labyrinth, the middle-path, is a sacred place for meditation and prayer, set aside for one to be more open and able to receive whatever insights or guidance that is there for you to receive.  
After a week of saying "we're almost done" about fifty times and as I write this evening, with just one more quadrant to complete, I am working a bit more prayerfully, on my own and at my own pace. The final section needed to complete this path holds the energy of PEACE and I am trying to respect that place.  Peace... An energy, that is so very aptly, also my prayer today for all my brothers and sisters, both near and far.

Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu
May all beings in all times and spaces
Be Happy and Free


Constance C said...

Beautifully placed

Girlwskls said...