One of the highlights for me in the past week was the session on labyrinths as part of prayer. It was one of the evenings in the Lent Course this year which is looking at ‘Prayer and the Living God’. To be honest, I knew very little about labyrinths. I had seen them and walked one but I’d never heard anyone talking about them. So it was a great opportunity to hear someone talk about them. Again, to be honest, I wasn’t especially looking forward to the evening. It was a busy week and the end of a busy day. I wanted to be home, with dinner before me – so I suppose, though I was interested, I went out of a sense of duty.
But God is the God of surprises – and I was grabbed out of my lethargy and taken to a place I didn’t know I’d be visiting. Felicity Collins, who led the session, in a beautifully gentle way, took us into the world of labyrinths and talked us through the use of two ‘finger labyrinths’. Our fingers then took us on a journey. You may remember when the Yellow Pages were first introduced they were sold to us with the phrase ‘Let your finger do the walking.’ That was what we allowed our finger to do as we used these labyrinths.
The experience for me was profound. I was taken by God on particular journeys in a very moving and profound way – and I keep thinking about those journeys. But I learnt some important things.
One of the things we were told is that there are no tricks in a labyrinth. These are not mazes that lead you down false paths and give you the sense of being lost. in a labyrinth there is but one path, one journey. It may weave around but you are always moving forwards. I hadn’t thought about it like that.
The other thing I learnt was that there is now a labyrinth in each Underground station in London. There were put into the stations to mark the 150th anniversary of the Tube. I had noticed some of them and wondered what they were – but the truth about them had passed me by. I think this is the most wonderful example of taking spirituality out of the churches and into the public realm. It really is an exciting and imaginative thing to do. The Underground Stations are points of beginning and ending of journeys and the wonderfully iconic tube map itself is a bit of a labyrinth in itself (but with a few dead ends). So bringing the spiritual journey and the actual journey together is really powerful.
It has made me want to search out the labyrinths in the stations and also keep travelling the one path. Jesus says
‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.’ (Matthew 7.13-14)
Perhaps as we get ready to journey the way of the cross we can enter into our own journey and find the path to which Jesus points us, in a new way.
The collect for this third week of Lent is a wonderful one which speaks of the journey Christ makes and the journey that we follow. Its a good prayer to use in our own praying.
whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain,
and entered not into glory before he was crucified:
mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross,
may find it none other than the way of life and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.