Welcome to the St. Luke’s labyrinth. A labyrinth is a meandering and purposeful path representing a journey to our own center and back to the real world and has long been used as a tool for meditation. (as defined on lessons4living.com) We hope that you enjoy using this contemplative space.
1) As you start through the labyrinth, take the path to the right and stop at the first marker – a huge boulder. Put there originally in response to a car that crashed through the front of the church, notice the size and immovability of it. Some days the problems in our lives can seem much the same-large and rooted. We carry the weight of them on our shoulders like Atlas holding up the world. When problems feel too large, we feel like they can be insurmountable. As you go through the labyrinth, we hope that you are able to find calm and ways to shrink that boulder down to a pebble so that you may live your best life.
2) Through the archway, we start our journey at the rose bushes on the right. Often thorny but beautiful and delicate, they remind us to slow down, and no matter what comes our way to stop and smell the roses. Personal time is at a record low – we are always rushing here and there, and even when we are alone our time and attention is consumed with answering texts, emails and surfing the web endlessly. Take this time now to focus only on yourself. Close your eyes, feel your heartbeat, and just be present in this time and this place. Breathe deeply, hold it for a count of 5 and then breathe out. Do this a few times. Can you feel your shoulders relaxing, your mind clearing and the tension leaving your body? What does the sun feel like on your face? Does the wind ruffle your hair? What birds can you hear contributing their song? When you are ready, continue along the path.
3) Depending on the time of year that you visit the labyrinth, at our next marker you may see the hollyhocks. The name is a combination from middle-English holi (holy) and Anglo Saxon hoc (mallow) so holy or blessed mallow. The type of plant Alcea may also come from ancient Greek “altho” or healing. Therefore in this area let’s consider our health – this may be mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual. When we are down, who do we turn to – a cheerleader in our lives that gives us a boost, a friend that lends a shoulder or an ear? If we are aching is there a neighbor or friend that shovels the walk or brings the groceries so that we don’t have to go out? Are we pulled in several directions looking after aging parents, small children, our spouses? What can we do to minimize this stress that takes its toll? Yoga and meditation? Ask for help? Rearrange our priorities and lives? These are all valid things to consider.
4) Continuing along the path we reach a smaller boulder with many layers perhaps reminiscent of the earth. How can we be good caretakers of this earth – do we demonstrate the popular slogan reuse, recycle, reduce? Is there a way to teach others to care for the earth – composting, lobbying for different forms of power or reducing emissions from vehicles or using alternative transportation? Do we change our eating habits so that less food is transported over huge distances? Or does it start with cleaning the area around us one wrapper at a time?
5) Stop at the bench under the pine tree and enjoy the shade, the smell of the pine, and rest perhaps quietly chatting with a friend. Draw strength from the solidity of the bench, marvel at the height of the trees.
6) At this next stop, consider the rest of the world and those in it. Ponder how life may be for others – has there been a huge hurricane? Are they trying to find their way in a new country to which they have immigrated? Is someone dealing with poverty or homelessness? How are we part of the situation-welcoming and informative, scared to connect with them, assisting or hindering their recovery from disaster? Has a tornado or fire come through and there is a need to rebuild but also to find somewhere to live in the meantime? Can we be open to the experience of meeting others and getting to know them by exploring their background and culture? We have arrived at the tulip bed. Tulips can be a symbol for many different things-forgiveness, perfect love, happiness and peace, a new beginning. The tulip hibernates through the cold and blossoms in the spring with new life. What do we have in our lives to be forgiven for either by others or by ourselves?
7) What stops us from forgiving someone? When we forgive or ask for forgiveness, do we feel a sense of peace and relief that allows us to move forward? Can we feel that love and start to sense a new relationship with that person or ourselves? Do we feel lighter and more positive? What baggage do we need to divest of in order to be the best form of ourselves? Once we have released ourselves from this burden, what dreams might be ready to blossom? The tulips here are named the following: Bleu Amiable, Daydream, World Friendship, Serene Sunset, Edging Forward, Canadian Eh!, Crowning Glory, Triumph-hopefully these will inspire you as you move forward in your life
8) Consider thankfulness for all of that which you have. For family, friends, a person that opened the door when your hands were very full, a pie dropped off by a neighbor just because, the ability to go to school where you want, worship where you want, be free without persecution. To be thankful for opportunities that you might not have had in other places or times, for mentors that ask for nothing in return but your best effort. A friend that took you to your cancer treatments, or cleaned up your yard before winter when you couldn’t. Be thankful for the snow elves that clear the driveway before you get home or for the person that crosses paths with you and makes an unexpected comment that brightens your day.
9) We are nearing the end. Notice that we have come through the many twists and turns of the labyrinth much like life from a darker shadier area to an area of light. As you pass the lights at the end of the labyrinth, we hope that you too are feeling lighter and happier as you return to the rest of the world.