Thursday, March 23, 2006

An unusual means of grace in the form of a roundabout journey

Ever walked a prayer labyrinth? This is not native to my free church tradition (to my knowledge), but I have come to appreciate the grace that I am made aware of particularly through this discipline. Here is a personal reflection on my experience of a prayer labyrinth. WEMO will host a "way of sorrows" prayer labyrinth (combining a labyrinth with a "Stations of the Cross" walk) during Holy Week, Monday thru Friday, 5-8 pm; all are welcome.

I walk in
aware there will be an ending
to this meandering way,
but uncertain
what I will face
whom I may meet
what I shall be called upon to do
around the next turn,
at the next station,
in the center of this labyrinth.

I soon realize this is no maze.
With grace, there are no dead ends,
no blind alleys,
no luring sideshows;
just unexpected
and unpredictable
turn upon turn--
surprise and grief
and joy.

I want to rush through,
complete the exercise,
get on to the next experience;
announce how odd it felt,
ponder why others see so much
and I so appallingly little.
Am I missing something, I wonder?
I slow my pace and
I pray to see, to hear,
to be still, still…
and open.

I round another turn.
Haven’t I been here before?
It feels so familiar,
but not quite the same.
I can see where I’ve been
and I have moved forward--
but have I progressed?
Is what is to be learned
what was previously not learned?
And how does what was embraced
or discarded or absorbed
shape or challenge or season
what now lies before me?

As I move toward the center,
I linger longer at each turn.
I am no longer bent on finishing,
or securing reportable insights,
or determining my path;
I feel as if I am being led,
as if I am following a way,
as if being guided
and surrounded
by previous and fellow travelers
who also walk
this way.

I am moved to the center
sooner or later, I do not know
(time now seems moot),
and I feel mostly gratitude--
gratitude with a twinge of regret:
regret that I entered so casually,
so presumptively and
walked so arrogantly so long--
how much was intended that I missed?
But gratitude overwhelms regret;
grace shapes our fears and pride
and gives sight to blind eyes.
And for that, and for all,
I shall be ever
so grateful.

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