“Show me your paths” (Psalm 25v4)
Have a look at this picture. What do you see? Can you relate to it in any way? Think about this.
Even though we are all on ‘go slow’ are minds do not always allow us to be contemplative. My mind is endlessly noisy, busy with it endeavours, worries, distractions and concerns. If you look closely at this picture, you will find both a maze and a labyrinth: two seemingly similar devices. However, they are fundamentally different because they have different intentions. A maze is designed to confuse and loose us whereas a labyrinth is created to guide us on a journey of discovery and clarity.
I suggest that contemplation offers us a journey we can make without going anywhere – good news in a time of lockdown! Benignus O’Rourke says “if we are prepared to sit in silence and journey to the still centre of our being we shall discover that we have everything within us for our spiritual journey, and there are blessings at each step along the way. What we find on the journey will be different for each one of us. The journey may look the same, but each one’s story is unique. We each find our own truth”
The second picture shows a path through the woods. This piece, like the first image, is based on artworks made by people about their experiences of living with dementia. The path or journey through the woods was inspired by advice given by Native American elders to their children if they get lost in the forest:
“Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you are not lost.
Wherever you are is called here, and you must treat it as a powerful stranger.
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breaths. Listen. It answers, I have made this place around you.
If you leave this place you may come back again saying, here.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost to you, you are surely lost.
Stand still. The forest knows where you are. You must let it find you.”
Look at the pictures and think about these questions:
What is your way? Where would you like to journey to?
What distracts you?
What leads you?
What is your truth?
You will need: paper, pencil and maybe a printer
- either print the finger labyrinth above or trace it from your computer screen, or copy it onto the paper. The picture should sit comfortably on an A4 sheet of paper.
- Now find a comfortable and quiet space, take your labyrinth, a pencil and a hard surface to rest on.
- give yourself a minute or two to sit and to pay attention to your breath
- take your pencil on a slow journey from the entrance of the labyrinth into the centre. As you go inward, imagine a journey towards your soul. As thoughts occur, notice them. They might be things that are bothering or troubling you, they made be issues to deal with, other people you are worried about, our country or our world. Imagine they are heavy burdens, like stones in a rucksack, which you are leaving behind along your journey inward. You might want to draw symbols or make marks to signify these things.
- when you finally get to the middle of the labyrinth, hopefully you will have left all your concerns behind – or more, accurately, to one side for a while. Spend some time listening to your inner divine. Where is your journey inward taking you today? You may choose to draw a picture or a pattern or scribble or colour in some part of the paper in response.
- When you are ready, return out of the labyrinth slowly, retracing you path with the pencil. Notice those things you have left aside on your way in. How do you see them now? They may be just as concerning or difficult, or you may have new insight concerning them.
- Return to your breathing for a moment before ending your reflection.