One of my spiritual tools of choice is the labyrinth. Perhaps it's because sitting still has never come easy for me. No doubt, the nuns of my earliest years in elementary school would have agreed. I'm just too fidgety to be physically stationary. To this day, I doodle, tap my fingers, shake my leg, rock back and forth, and play background music in my head to whomever is speaking.
The labyrinth offers an opportunity to walk and pray at the same time. Like my prayer and meditation, I'm urged forward, accepting the twists and turns as I journey forth. Sometimes, I find myself surprised that I've finished my walk and go right back into the labyrinth. Prayer shouldn't have a timer on it, nor should it have an expected outcome. The labyrinth isn't about setting rules on what to think. It just offers in a way bumper guards so that you're guided while you walk, keeping you free to wander without worrying whether you'll fall off an abyss.
The labyrinth is liturgy in motion.
It's been a blessing that All Saints Pasadena has offered the labyrinth every weekday throughout Lent for the past several years. The community gets to walk and pray alone or together. You can even listen to the Taizé service, organ practice, or choir rehearsals while you take your inner journey. And you keep moving.
And while you move in space, you move in your mind. And while you move, you water deep the empty spaces that have been parched and thirsty. A lovely article "The Induced Meandering of the Lenten Season" describes how nature and well-designed landscaping can water gardens when rain comes infrequently. Since moving to Southern California several decades ago, I've learned that the ground here has practically no capacity to absorb water quickly. Despite this, the rain, when it appears, doesn't come down lightly here. It's sunny most of the year or it pours and creates mudslides.
Soil absorbs water because it has spaces in between rocks, dirt particles, roots, and other materials. These gaps can collect the water, if given enough time. Downpours don't allow that, nor do floods. But a river stream has many obstacles that slow water down: rocks, boulders, trees, twists, turns. Nature in a sense creates a way so that water can slow down enough to trickle into those spaces.
Like the labyrinth and prayer.
We slow down, pause, turn every few steps while walking the labyrinth. We breathe in, breathe out to a rhythm that isn't musically consistent, but forces us to accept the winding ways. In doing so, we have an opportunity to find those parched spaces inside and fill them with life-giving water, soothing the thirst, baptizing the recesses with a life made new. A Lent of slow meandering is a Lent of slowly filling.
Let all who are thirsty come. Let all who wish receive the water of life freely. Come.