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(Tuesday nights in Lent we will be offering Labyrinth Walks in the Atrium at Christ Church Cranbrook. It will be open from 6:30 PM to 8 PM every Tuesday in March — you can come any time. Give yourself about 15-25 minutes to experience it.)
A labyrinth is not a maze. It is a single path toward the center, which you then retrace on your way out. There are no choices to be made and no wrong turns to avoid. The idea is to free yourself to relax as you walk and become more present to God. While there is no single way to walk a labyrinth, if you are new to the Labyrinth, here are 6 basic steps you might take:
Step 1 – Prepare. (Remember) When you arrive, find a place to sit down and take a moment to transition from your everyday life to the labyrinth experience. Remove your watch. Turn off your phone. Put them down if you can. Slow your breathing. Still your mind. Remember that you are a child of God seeking a deeper connection and relationship with God. Remember that God longs for that relationship as well and promises to be found by those who seek it. While you may bring doubts or fears with you, the path is a place of safety and peace because it is a path to God, with God, and from God.
Step 2 – Begin your journey. When ready, move to the entrance, pause and take a cleansing breath and focus your attention. You may ask God a question. You can use the prompt question provided. You can say a prayer or recite an affirmation. Some people choose to bow or make another ritual gesture to signal the beginning of their walk.
Step 3 – Walk the inward path. (Release) Put one foot in front of the other and walk at a measured pace that is comfortable for you. On the way toward the center of the labyrinth, focus on letting go of things you want to leave behind and releasing things that stand in the way of God’s path for you. Pause when you need to. Don’t focus on the center as a goal; be present in each step of the inward path.
Step 4 – Spend time in the center (Receive) Take as long as you wish. You may pray, scribble a note, or simply be open to the stillness. Having released your cares or concerns, enjoy the space for God’s Spirit to share guidance, assurance, insight, wisdom, and peace. Be aware of the blessings in your life – people, opportunities, these moments of quiet.
Step 5 – Take the return path. (Respond) When you are ready to leave the center, begin walking back the way you came. On this part of the journey, focus on what you will bring out from the center and back into your life. Resist the temptation to sprint to the finish line: the return journey is as important as every other part of the labyrinth. What is God inviting you to be or do as you return to the world? Is there an action to take? An insight to share? A new possibility to explore? As you return to your responsibilities, you do so aware that you are not empty-handed or alone.
Step 6 – Reflect. When you leave the labyrinth, you may pause, cross yourself, bow, or say a prayer. Before leaving the area, take some time to reflect on the insights you’ve gained. Sit and be at peace, listening to what the Holy Spirit might still be saying. Make notes in your journal to explore further later. Are you being called to walk it again?