Friday, April 29, 2011

flashback friday

Flashback :: an old post from 2 years ago. I'm so looking forward to the upcoming weekend and our church's women's retreat and heading back to this wonderful retreat center {I'm counting the hours until I leave}. I can't wait to hear from our retreat speaker. She's been one of my very favorite people since I first took her aerobics class in college. Then we were in a small prayer group together when I was pregnant with Jacob and worked at Bethel, and more recently I was so excited to see her at a surprise pamper-the-momma shower a couple of my friends threw for me right before Sara was born. I hadn't seen Dottie in years and was thrilled that she had been included and was able to come! I also really hope the weather cooperates over the weekend so I can walk the Labyrinth again. I remember it so fondly. I want a Labyrinth in my yard!


I was SO blessed by the retreat that I attended this weekend. It was completely wonderful and just what I needed (except it ended about 3 weeks too soon . . . what's with the "weekend retreat" anyway? I want, like, a whole month!!)

Great women, wonderful teaching, some down time, wonderful friends {one of whom was even willing to share her Dr. Pepper}, a beautiful setting, meaningful small group time, a craft project, new friends, rooming with my momma . . . the list goes on. Every single aspect of the weekend was great! We did a retreat-series by Beth Moore entitled Loving Well, which was wonderful and gave insight into how best to love the many different people that are a part of our lives with a focus on how to love those that are difficult to love. It was wonderful!

I read a book, probably last summer, that sparked my curiousity about labyrinths. Kristen Heitzmann is an author that I really enjoy, so when I saw that my library had a new book of hers, I checked it out. The main character in the book is a landscape architect who specializes in designing labyrinths. I had heard the word labyrinth before and had a very vague idea of what a labyrinth was, {but, as it turns out, I had it kind of wrong} but after reading this book I was very intrigued by them. Well, wouldn't you know it . . . the retreat center we were at has a labyrinth! I was so excited!

Here is a picture (from the retreat center's website) of the labyrinth.
Although I brought my camera along on the retreat and carried it in my pocket nearly the whole weekend, I was having such a great time that I forgot to take pictures . . . I didn't even take 1! {I'm a little mad at myself for that . . . so I guess there was one less-than-perfect part to the weekend. No pictures to help me remember}.

The labyrinth didn't look this great over the weekend, since stuff is still kinda dead-ish. It was more brown than green, but I would love to spend a little time in it when it looks like this . . . I had such a wonderful experience with the labyrinth when it wasn't quite so pretty, I can only imagine how much better it would be if it was this beautiful! So, what is a labyrinth exactly?, you might wonder. Here is a really short, basic description for ya that specifically describes the labyrinth at the retreat center:

Based on the tiled floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France just south of Paris, the Koinonia Labyrinth is a tool for meditation, prayer, and spiritual awareness that has become highly favored by persons wishing to transcend the distractions of their lives…seekers of awareness, wisdom, forgiveness, peace, and grace.

It is not a maze with dead-ends and false trails, but is a single path to, and then from, a center. At the center is a bench for resting before walking out of the Labyrinth to resume whatever it was you were doing or thinking before you began your meditation walk.

That particular description sounds a little weird and new-agey to me, but so be it. If you want a more detailed description with lots of pictures and tons to read, check out labyrinth on Wikipedia here. The main point being that it's not a maze or a puzzle. There are no dead ends and you can't do it wrong. It's just a winding path that leads you to the center and then back out again.

While walking the labyrinth I felt like a I really learned a lot. As soon as I was done, I found a pen and some paper and tried to capture all that I had learned about life by walking through the labyrinth. So, without further ado, here are my "Lessons from the Labyrinth":

Lesson #1: This is it? . . . Yup, this is it!: Upon first approaching the labyrinth I was really pretty disappointed to be honest. It was mostly brown and pretty much dead; it was not as big as I expected (I had heard it was the largest labyrinth in the state) and really wasn't much to look at. Could I really spend 45 mintues walking around on this relatively small piece of earth? (the caretaker had told of that a reflective, prayerful walk of the entire labyrinth took about 45 minutes). Turns out this was it and it was what it was! It was my job to make the most out of it . . . as is often the case with life

Lesson #2: Keep going, you'll get there: I kept thinking that I was just about to the center of the labyrinth, but then the path would curve around again and I would be heading away from what I thought my destination was . . . I was convinced, on more than one occassion, that I must have taken a wrong turn somehow and was going to find myself exiting the labyrinth having never made it to the middle. But I kept going and, sure enough, I made it to the middle.

Lesson #3: Sometimes there are lots and lots and lots of turns . . . one right after another: If you look at the picture of the labyrinth you can kind of imagine how it goes: you walk along the path, not quite in circles {although the basic shape of the labyrinth is a circle}, but taking turns and curves to arrive at the middle before following the same path in reverse to make your way out again. Just like in life, the labyrinth often took a turn when you least expected one . . . or right after you'd just finished taking a 180 degree turn moments before . . . it felt like you were covering the same ground over and over. The interesting thing, though, was that you weren't. No matter how repetitive it seemed, you were always on a new part of the path . . . even when it seemed like you had returned to a place where you had just been. Anyone else who can relate to that in their life?

Lesson #4: You think you're almost there, but then you're not: Like I said in #2, you often think you have "arrived" only to realize just a little farther down the path that you have not. In fact, you are heading, again, away from your intended destination.

Lesson #5: It takes longer than you expect: Isn't that just the way? You think to yourself, "this shouldn't take too long" or "this shouldn't be too hard" only to find that it does . . . and it is! Such was the case with the labyrinth too!

Lesson #6: A winding path mowed into the grass can make you cry: Ok, I know many of you won't be surprised by my saying this . . . I mean really, we're talking about me here. I cry at everything! But I was amazed by how emotional it was, just walking through this winding path mowed into a field. What's the big deal about that? I'm not sure what it was exactly, but man was it an emotional experience. It really moved me and got to me deep inside! I wasn't even crying about situations in my life or in the life of others (although it was a very prayerful walk and I was thinking about lots of things that could easily make me cry). I don't have any words to adequately explain it, but I wasn't crying about any particular situations or struggles or people or hurts . . . simply being in the labyrinth and walking its path brought me to tears!

Lesson #7: You will get there: Sometimes you feel like giving up. You think you've taken too many wrong turns (or even just one!) and you'll never make it. It just doesn't seem to be coming together the way you imagined it would. Stick with it. You will get there!

Lesson #8: It's worth it!: When you reach the middle you are thrilled . . . you made it . . . you did it . . . you can rest and reflect now. How great is that?

Lesson #9: Keep your eyes on what is right in front of you, put one foot in front of the other and for Pete's sake just stay on the path: Yup, you can do it! It is worth it! It's not a trick! Trust the path and you'll make it . . . trust the designer of the labyrinth; He knows what He's doing. You won't be let down.

"Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3.13-14)
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path." (Proverbs 3.5-6)
"You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." (Psalm 16.11)
"And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him . . . to shine on those living in darkness . . . to guide our feet into the path of peace." (Luke 1.76 and following)
Lesson #10: Beware of dry hay: Because I really felt like having a #10 would round out the list nicely and because the stalk of dry grass or hay of some sort that I picked along the way gave me a nasty sliver that still hurts and has not completely worked itself out of my thumb, I thought I would include this life lesson as well: beware of innocent-seeming stuff.

I hope you have gained a little insight of your own from my time in the labyrinth. I have decided that I want one in my backyard! How great would that be? A great place to unwind, clear my mind, pray . . . maybe someday! For now maybe I'll just need to find myself in South Haven, MN every once in a while and see if I can pop in for a little time in the labyrinth.

P.S. In case you are curious, Kirb and the kiddos did just fine without me. Since Kirb is really the better parent in this family, that shouldn't be too surprising. I was thrilled to get home and see my family on Sunday afternoon. They are wonderful!!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this. Very insightful stuff my friend.


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