I can be somewhat type-a in areas of my passion. This includes the practice of my faith. I tend to play the role or Martha rather than Mary – sometimes even having a bit of disdain, just as Martha did, at Mary’s seemingly lackadaisical attitude toward service.
The deep surgery Christ performs on Martha during her ailment is not lost on me. For quite some time, our Lord has been prying my hand from my prideful plow and and healing me to the place where, as Mullins puts it, “I’m lost enough to let myself be lead” For a variety of reasons, the Lord lead me to take somewhat of a sabbatical from church activity. As I did this, I realized how easy it is for me to be over zealous about Christian activity.
Putting me in the middle of a ministry driven church is like putting a cat in the middle of a floor surrounded by tuna fish and telling it to stay. There is an element of my zeal that is pure, but to be perfectly honest, my insatiable drive toward ministry is often more fueled by my need to feel good about myself. I am capable of saying no and sitting down but I don’t want to very often. So, consequently, I anxiously fill up my time with many good Christian duties but neglect the one thing needed that is so much better. Luke 10:41-42
But our Lord is teaching me. A variety of experiences over the last few months have taught me more about prayer, meditation, solitude, silence, journaling and other disciplines. I’m a horrible student but He is a great and patient teacher. Recently, he persuaded me to take up listening to many books, podcasts and other audio material. It was a way to push me out of the nest of what I know and into the wild blue expanse that I do not know, to add new wonder to my life, and to prove to me how very limited all my knowledge really is anyway. It’s kind of ridiculous that he has to go to such extremes to show me what is so obvious.
In listening to the audiobook, “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel H. Pink – see my blog about it – I learned about labyrinths. Contrary to the 1986 film by this name or even the Greek mythology that made them famous, it is a general misconception that labyrinths are the same constructs as mazes. A maze is a puzzle to be solved with many paths that are dead ends, keeping you lost. A labyrinth, on the other hand, has a singular, connected journey to the center and back. They are not puzzles to be solved but an intentionally elongated journey designed to slow your pace into a state of meditation. Mazes are analytical and left-brained where labyrinths are contextual, spiritual and right-brained. A labyrinth is a walking meditation, a devotional act of worship, and a sacred celebration of life. It’s power is in its simplicity – it presents an orderly path to quiet the mind enabling deeper communion with God as the body moves in a peaceful walking rhythm. With each step, we are able to diminish the cares of the world and tune into the illumined voice of God. Walking the labyrinth is not something to learn or memorize, but something to experience.
First I visited the World-wide Labyrinth Locator at http://labyrinthlocator.com/. There are different layouts, sizes, construction types of labyrinths. After learning about them and reviewing the one in Georgetown and 13 in Austin, I decided I wanted to visit one based on the medieval design then settled on a beautiful labyrinth at Seton Northwest excited by the feature of trees actually growing in the path of the labyrinth. I wasn’t sure what to expect – should I go for silence or bring some meditative music. I decided to bring it just in case and to decide there whether or not to use it. I loaded the best candidates in a special playlist onto my iPhone and then headed for the labyrinth with the feeling in my heart of embarking on an epic saga.
As I walked the labyrinth, I found myself in a deeply stirring encounter with God. I will share the experience in my next blog entry. In the mean time, I thoroughly recommend walking a labyrinth as a form of prayer and mediation. I hope you will experience it soon.