This workshop will be presented at Nebraska Synod LYON Assembly 2015:
Have you ever had trouble just sitting down, sitting still and praying? Is your mind a prayer wanderer? Do you wish to deepen your prayer practice by involving your whole body? Come and explore the ancient prayer practice of the labyrinth in several forms with Pastor Breen Marie Sipes of Tri-Saints Lutheran Parish. Come dressed for the weather, as at least part of this workshop will be outside.
How many of you know what a labyrinth is? (Solicit responses)
How many of you have actually experienced a labyrinth before? (Solicit experiences)
The first thing to know about a labyrinth is that it is NOT a maze. It is an ancient prayer practice that involves a one way journey in and a one way journey out. It is not possible to get lost, and for me, that is one of the best parts of a labyrinth. I don’t have to worry about where I am going or how I will get there, and I can trust that I will get to the middle and back out just by following the path.
Labyrinths were used in the middle ages as a sort of pilgrimage. It was preferable to go to an actual holy site, such as Jerusalem or another important place, but this was a long journey and not always possible. Walking a labyrinth while praying gave a pilgrim a pilgrimage experience without actually having to travel a long distance to get there.
Labyrinths were largely forgotten or destroyed in the intervening centuries. They are gaining popularity now as a way to pray with your body. Sometimes, we have minds that wander if we try to just sit and pray. Engaging your body in one way or another can help you to keep your focus on the journey, on God, and on your prayer.
In today’s workshop, we will experience four different types of labyrinths in stations. You can find more labyrinth resources here: https://goodgodideas.wordpress.com/category/labyrinth/
Station #1: Online Labyrinth: Plug in your headphones and follow the on-screen instructions. http://www.labyrinth.org.uk/onlinelabyrinthpage1.html
Station #2: Walking the Labyrinth: We walked the outdoor labyrinth at Church of the Good Shepherd in Hastings. If you don’t have access to a permanent labyrinth, you can make one out of painter’s tape here:
MEDITATIVE WALKING: On the Way In
Remove your shoes. You will be walking on holy ground. Walk the labyrinth slowly and deliberately, focusing on the path only a few feet ahead. Don’t worry about when it will be time to turn; you will get there. Don’t worry about the path that you are taking; you will get to the center (it is not a maze). Practice walking this
way all the way into the center. You may sit and listen for God’s presence for a few minutes before making your way back out.
BREATH PRAYER: On the Way Out
As you make your way out, you may repeat the same short prayer with each step. Some examples include:
Thank You (left foot) God (right foot) or
Watch (left foot) over me (right foot) or
Holy (left foot) Spirit (right foot) or
I shall (left foot) not want (right foot).
Continue this practice for the entire path of the labyrinth. Pause and say, “Amen” as you reach the exit, and continue on your journey.
Station #3: Table Top Labyrinth: Read through both activities and choose one before you begin using the table top labyrinth.
LEAVE IT WITH GOD
Before you enter the table top labyrinth, choose a marble from the dish. This marble represents something that you wish to give over to God’s care. Using the marble, trace the path of the labyrinth slowly and deliberately. There is only one way to the center, so there is no way to get lost. While you move the marble, pray about this thing that you wish to leave with God. When you reach the center of the labyrinth, you may continue to pray, or pause in silence. When you feel that your time in the center is over, you may leave your marble in the center. Leave the labyrinth by retracing the same path with your finger that brought you in in the reverse. When you reach the end, give yourself a few moments to say “Amen” or “Let it be so,” and then return to the world, having released your burdens to God.
TAKE IT WITH YOU
If you don’t have anything in particular to leave with God, ask God to show you what God will give to you to take with you from the labyrinth. Trace the path of the labyrinth with your finger tip. When you reach the center of the labyrinth, you may continue to pray, or pause in silence. When you feel that your time in the center is over, take a marble, which represents what God has given you to take with you, from the center. Leave the labyrinth by retracing the same path with the marble that brought you in in the reverse. When you reach the end, give yourself a few moments to say “Amen” or “Let it be so,” and then return to the world, carrying your stone. You may choose to place the marble in a place that you will see it often, or keep it in a pocket, purse, or backpack to carry as a reminder.
Station #4: Drawing a Fingertip Labyrinth: Use the paper and pencils provided, along with the instruction booklet, to draw your own labyrinth. When you have completed your drawing, do the activity below, tracing the labyrinth with the eraser on your pencil.
Find a PDF of the Instruction Booklet here: Drawing a Finger Tip Labyrinth
INTERCESSIONS: On the Way In
This type of labyrinth “walking” includes intercessory prayer. Trace the labyrinth with the eraser on your pencil, and, at each turn, pause for a few moments and pray for someone or something specifically. Then, make the turn and trace to the next turn. When you arrive in the center, you can spend some time writing or drawing about the people or things you prayed about around your labyrinth.
PETITIONS: On the Way Out
On the way out of the labyrinth, you can also pause and pray, this time for yourself and things that you need. When you reach the exit of the labyrinth, pause for a few moments to thank God for the opportunity to talk to God. You can spend some time writing or drawing about what you prayed for on the way out on the back side of your labyrinth. When you are finished, say “Amen” and go on with your journey.