Thursday, October 11, 2012

31 Days in which I Am Saved by Beauty - Day 11

This is the main drag of our town,
State Street.
In this picture,
we are very near the northern end of downtown,
before the road takes a hard left,
and becomes something else entirely.
But here,
right here,
on the corner of Micheltorena,
you can find this beauty:
A beautiful, Gothic
brownstone church.
Trinity Episcopal Church,
to be exact.
It comes complete 
with bell tower and carillon,
which plays hymns at noon. 
And its large, red door
is open -
Like any brownstone church should,
it has it's interesting details,
including side doors,
hidden from the front.
But this particular church has something truly
special and unique.
It has a prayer labyrinth,
after the design of the one at Chartres,
in France.
It is beautiful,
and it is completely visible to
all north and south bound traffic
on State Street,
which as I mentioned,
is the main drag in our town.
I love that.
Every year, the students at
the School for Spiritual Direction
trek down from the Mission Renewal Center
to spend some time
and praying
the labyrinth.

The beige color is the pathway in (on the left)
and the pathway out (on the right).
The charcoal areas are for stepping out if someone
is walking in the opposite direction
and your paths cross.

I've already written in this series about
how walking has enriched my prayer life,
here, here, and here.

The labyrinth is yet another way in which
movement can be combined with 
prayer, meditation and silence
to enlarge, refresh and enliven
personal prayer.

You enter the labyrinth in a spirit of quiet,
seeking to listen,
to receive,
to understand,
to discern.
Walking into the labyrinth,
you are invited to
let go
of the concerns and
worries of the day,
and all those things
which sometimes
distract from a
deepening interior journey.
When you arrive at the center flower,
you are encouraged,
in fact, invited,
to spend
time in reflection,
thanksgiving -
taking as long as you
need, as long as you like.
As you begin the walk out,
take heart from
the time spent quietly at
the center, and prepare
to re-enter the world
of everyday responsibilities
and commitments,
refreshed and strengthened
for the journey.

The interesting part of this experience for me
is the rhythm of the walking.
Parts of the labyrinth are long
and graceful, allowing me
to move easily,
even quickly, if I wish.
But many parts are tight,
with twisting turns,
requiring concentration
and attention to navigate.
The path doubles back,
seems to repeat itself.
A lot like life.
But, in a labyrinth,
you are never lost,
no matter how convoluted
the pathway may feel
at any given moment.
There is one way in,
and one way out,
and when you leave,
you will want to come again.

This labyrinth is just across the street
from my dentist's office.
Occasionally, when it's time 
to get my teeth cleaned,
I come early
and walk the labyrinth for twenty
minutes or so.
It's a space of quiet beauty
and refreshment,
and I am grateful for it.
I particularly like that it
is situated on the main street of our town.
Because that's where prayer 
is so often lacking,
and where it is often most needed.