If you missed my last post, go here. I'm writing about my first experience at a silent spiritual retreat. I left off at the point were I had just settled into a quiet spot by the river and I was checking out the labyrinth handout that our director had given us before the retreat began.
The labyrinth is described here as "a defined path, a physical journey inward to a sacred space." I've re-written the rest of the instructions to show you how it works step-by-step:
The goal: To discover your deepest, truest self while encountering peace and rest in the company of your ever-present God.
1. Pause. Breathe slowly. Begin when you are ready. Trace your finger along the path.
2. As you enter, leave distractions behind.
3. As you move forward, embrace what God brings to you. Pay attention to any words, thoughts, or feelings that come to you.
4. When you reach the center, linger there with God. Meditate on "Christ in you, the Hope of glory." as He reveals Himself to you.
5. The way out is the same as the way in -- just follow the path. The return journey offers space for reflection as you move back toward the exterior world, transformed at the core of your being. Carry with you the peace of Christ, which is with you always.
"Meditation is not so much concerned with thinking as with being. And in contemplative prayer we seek to become the person we are called to be, not by thinking about God, but by being with Him." ~John Main
After tracing the pathway on the handout with my finger and entering into a moment of pure stillness in center of the labyrinth, I felt an urge to pick up my pencil. I recalled our director's prompting: Ask God for one thing.
I wrote that one thing down.
Because I feel overwhelmed
And hopelessly flawed.
I can't live up to my own ideals;
I'm weary of trying to get it all just right.
I ask for mercy
Because I've let others eclipse Your Light.
When I look to them for approval,
Your Light appears dim
And I wither.
But here, Lord, Your mercy is washing over me,
Making me feel brave.
I am Your little child, drawing scribbles on this pretty paper -- do You like them?
I kiss Your hands and touch Your face.
Here in Your presence,
I'm safe and free!
During the next hour by the river I read various Scriptures and devotional materials. Each time I was struck by a passage, I wrote it down on my labyrinth. My copy-work curved all the way out of the labyrinth and into the white space beyond. This helped me to reflect on the experience and carry the peace of God with me into the exterior world.
"The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace." ~Mother Teresa
I hope you will make some time for meditation today. Perhaps the labyrinth will help you go deeper in prayer than ever before. In my next post, I'll wrap up this series with some photos from my prayer-walk around the Spiritual Center property.
Peace & Joy,