“When the mind, divided and torn, is drawn into so many and such weighty matters, where can it return to itself, so as to recollect itself…?” Pope Gregory the Great was guiding us to prayer in sacred spaces by acknowledging our desperation. He was pointing us to our inner spirit of serenity that comes as a gift from God and is always on offer to us. Only our choice to access it is limited, never the potential to experience it.
Walking the labyrinth encourages us to bravely link our human desperation and our God given sense of serenity. Attaching ourselves to God’s presence and promise in prayerful contemplation becomes an active, heartfelt choice. As we retreat from specific daily cares into meditation on our walk, we encounter strengthening thoughts and feelings. Desperation may frankly be seen as an all too human “sickness” that comes as a result of emotions that have no ready spot in our life situation. Serenity may be recognized as courage, a cardinal virtue manifested by many others in times of peril. We may reflect on our heroic but limited capacities for human struggle. We may humbly enlist God’s power through the wisdom and revelation of Scripture.
Changes in our perspective are the experiences we seek in bringing our lives into the labyrinth. With God’s help we may be as startled as St Paul or as relieved as occasionally being glad we are alive. Change of any kind, however, may be counted as success. Recollection doesn’t result in all or none or sick or well, miserable or happy. More likely we experience more or less, better or worse. We only do what we can to handle something better, to suffer less. To gain the most from walking the labyrinth and gain it more quickly, we must have the heart and will to keep going forward in our lives, in conversation with God.
Margaret Rappaport Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator