It can be hard to find a sacred space in the middle of our busy lives. Frequently, we have to head outside of our daily lives to the wilderness. For many the wonder and peace of the woods allow them to slow down and center on God’s creation. Yet, often our busy lives and our locations in town do not allow us to escape easily to these places. Other times our physical limitations no longer allow us to go where we want to go. Our hearts long to go to places our feet and mobility will no longer take us. Although for others it is the restrictions on our schedule and the responsibilities of work and home. A hand-held labyrinth can help us make a Christian spiritual pilgrimage.
Tracing the Hand-Held Labyrinth
The large square piece of solid wood rests in my lap. The weight of the wood is comforting but not heavy. The circular labyrinth is formed with the grooves shaped into the wood. The curves undulate and wind back and forth over the face of the circle.
It is confusing and mysterious yet it is not a maze. Distinctively, a maze has wrong and right choices to be made to find one’s way to the center. In truth, a hand-held labyrinth is not designed to confuse but to enlighten. Indeed there is only one path, one only needs to keep moving forward in trust and obedience to get to where you are supposed to go.
Yet, that path is not linear. There are no straight lines here. How we long for a linear path in life and not the twists and turns that we are challenged with! There are 34 turns in and 34 turns out of this path. On one trip through I gently count each turn, some are slight and some are more significant. Some turns bring be close to the center, which seems so close, and then the next turn takes me away. My path weaves back and forth, again and again.
Four-Chambered Heart of the Hand-Held Labyrinth
There are four quadrants that you move through and within. Like four chambers of our heart, the path leads us through the different areas of our lives that God wants to speak to us about. Each turn points us in a new direction and we end up facing in every direction. Likewise, on the path, you need to be open to anything God is going to speak to you about.
If you move too fast through the grooves you will find yourselves out of the groove. Accordingly, you have to slow down and be in the moment. Indeed, be right there on that piece of wood curving up and down on either side of your finger. Sometimes it helps to close your eyes to help focus on the board. Take the corners slowly in life and on the path. However, we sometimes long for a change and rush headlong into it. Other times, we drag our feet around the twists and turns. The turns will come, just keep walking.
There are quick areas that feel like you have barely started and you come upon a turn. Then, there are long areas where you are wondering and waiting for the next turn. Repeatedly you have to let go of expectations and of what direction you will go in next. You must trust and faithfully keep going to the center. Absolutely we fool ourselves when we assume that we are totally in charge of our lives. Sometimes God takes us in unexpected directions but all for His glory.
God is in charge and we must listen to His direction.
Your path is not backward, but ironically it can be easy to get turned around the wrong way. Stay attentive so that you don’t lose your direction, keep going forward.
Unfortunately, we get so busy in this life that we have a hard time being attentive in the here and now. Certainly, we must find joy not in a distant future but in what is happening now. God is at work not just in the future but all around us in the here and now. Are we listening and attending?
Don’t look too far ahead or you might be confused and stumble. In life, we want to plan everything and know where our sufferings are going to lead to & how God is going to bring all these things to His glory.
We need to focus on the here and now. God is a master weaver and will work His glory. It may be a tapestry we do not understand this side of heaven, but we just have to keep moving forward in faith.
Hand-Held Labyrinth: Finding the Center with God
You find yourselves moved and turning, in and out, and suddenly – you are in the center. Unexpectedly, you are face to face with God. Suddenly, the movement stops and you pause. In life, we focus so much on the journey that we forget that our goal is to get closer to God. It is in God that we find our rest and our quiet center in this hectic world. Everything in us longs to find God and will point us to God if we listen. When we find this center, we need to bask in it. Taking Sabbath in centered time with God reminds of whose we are.
We wonder where the different twists and turns in life are taking us. Why is God leading us away from Him? We wonder why we go from coming to close to turning away and then being led away. Doubt creeps in. We lose track of where we are in relation to God. Yet, the path is determinedly leading us to God in wondrous and mysterious ways that we never anticipated. Just keep walking.
The key is to trust in God’s leading. As long as we know we are acting in faithfulness with each step and focus on those steps, they will eventually lead us to where God wants us to be.
I hope you will make time for a spiritual walk or pilgrimage, whether it be a walk through the woods or a walk around the block. If time or body does not permit, consider a hand-held labyrinth as a way to prayerfully walk with God.
Have questions about whether or not Christians should use labyrinths? Read my post here on that subject.