labyrinths, living and growing, prayer, seeking God, spiritual growth

Labyrinths

Have you ever walked a labyrinth? Do you know what a labyrinth is? People often expect it to be a maze, but it is not. There is a clear route to the center and back out again. But the road inward is not a straight shot. There are many twists and turns. Labyrinths have been used for centuries by all kinds of religions. Christians have been known to use them as a form of prayer and introspection.

When I walk a labyrinth, I follow the path to the center, bringing my worries and concerns to the Lord. Sometimes I might focus on just one word on the way in and sometimes I am quiet and open. Once I reach the center, I see it as a figurative way to meet God and I spend a few moments there. As I take the path out, I feel refreshed with the assurance of him by my side.

I have discovered it to be a profound experience.

The most popular design for labyrinths where I live is the Chartres Labyrinth. It’s based on the labyrinth that was inlaid into the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France in 1201 A.D. Scores of people have visited the Notre Dame cathedral to walk it.

I have found labyrinths in a variety of places…in church basements, on church grounds, randomly in the woods and at big outlet malls.

I enjoy them so much I bought a finger labyrinth. Like the name implies you ‘walk it’ with your finger instead of your feet. It too is a peaceful form of meditative prayer.

The first time I walked a labyrinth I was overwhelmed by the effect it had on me. The twists and turn on the way in reminded me that even though I sometimes feel far from God, he is still right there in the center of it all. I only have to look to see him, but sometimes my eyes focus on the path right in front of me so intensely that I forget there is more. The labyrinth is an opportunity to slow down and see things in a new way. A chance to see God in a new way. An opportunity to see myself or situations in a new way.

It can be hard to slow down. To take a deep breath. But a labyrinth affords you the chance to do so. When you are on the path, despite it’s twists and turns, you can trust that even if you think you’ve lost your way, the road will lead you to God. And in walking the path you are reminded that even while God is at the center of everything, he is also walking right along side of you.

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Chronic pain, living and growing, sleep

The Problem with Rest

When I was younger I never knew how to rest. If I was awake, I was moving. There was always something that needed to get done.

About 10 years ago, that changed. My kids were mostly grown, perimenopause was kicking my butt and I knew I needed to rest. The problem was, I didn’t know how. It was foreign to me. I wasn’t even sure beyond taking a nap, what it meant to rest.

I began to read and study books on the subject. I was determined to figure it out. I led small groups on rest. I realized that if I didn’t know how to rest, maybe other women didn’t either. Sounds ironic, but I ‘worked’ on resting. And eventually, I started to figure it out.

Rest was good and necessary. It was so much more than sleeping. Rest nurtured the soul.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is that I was diagnosed recently with an autoimmune disease that both demands more rest and recoils from rest. Nowadays, resting creates stiff, inflamed joints. Pain travels from joint to joint with each day bringing it’s own unpleasant surprises. The one thing all my joints dislike is stillness.

Sitting still for more than 10 minutes or so and I get up out the chair like I’m 95 years old. Going to bed means hours of stillness. Hours of my joints being immobile. Immobile joints become painful and weak.

So, I have a new problem with rest. My soul still requires it. My mind has learned to appreciate it and most of my body still needs it. But my joints….well, they have a problem with rest.

So, a new journey has begun. I’m figuring out how to rest all over again. Rest, or how to do so without causing pain, is the problem I’m working at solving now.

I need to find new ways to rest. New ways of looking at rest. Even the most primal form of rest, sleeping, requires a new approach.

I’m taking my new problem and heading back to the drawing board. The advantage I have this time is that I now appreciate its benefits. I’ve experienced the value of it first hand for long enough to know that going back to ‘not resting’ is not the solution. Instead, I need to discover new ways of thinking of rest and new ways of actually doing it that work for this latest version of me.

I have a problem. And I won’t rest until I solve it! 🙂

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Love, Uncategorized

Love expressed…

Expressions of love can appear in so many forms. On a Valentine’s day not so long ago, it was expressed in the form of a little song, quickly made up and sung off key.

A few years back, my husband, Scott, a school teacher, had a two hour delay because of a storm. Because of this, he was home when I went to wake our teenage daughter up. As I opened the door to her room, he quickly stepped up beside me. We walked in together and spontaneously I started to sing – an old song from when our kids were young. My husband joined in. Then we launched into a Happy Valentine’s Day song sung to the tune of Happy Birthday. As we did that, Scott walked around the other side of her bed and together we bent down and kissed her.

And then we left her to get ready for the day.

And a thought occurred to me.  Never, growing up, had my parents come into my bedroom and sung to me.   Scott said that he had never experienced that either.

Yet we had just done that. We had done something we weren’t taught. Later, I realized that over the years, we’ve done similar things like that with all our kids. Spontaneously loving them through song or dance or hugs or kisses.

And I thought about how as parents, it seems that our desire is always to give to our kids some elusive thing we didn’t have as children.  It’s a desire, older than time itself.   Regardless of what our childhoods were like we want more for our children.

But usually that ‘more’ comes in the form of things, or opportunities.  But on that particular Valentine’s day, it came in the form of songs and kisses and two parents, united in their purpose to love on their daughter when the opportunity presented itself.

Some days we feel guilty about the opportunities we let pass by. Opportunities to express our love for one another.

And some days, we manage to express it just right.

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