Lavender Labyrinth

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I love lavender.  There is really no other way of expressing it: I. Love. Lavender.  Its fragrant heads have waved in the landscapes of my life since I was a child and for as long as I remember we have cooked, crafted and even healed with it.  How thrilled was I when my friend, Christine Sine (of Mustard Seed Associates), shared this Lavender Labyrinth in Kastellaun, Germany.  Thrilled because I also have a deep love and respect for labyrinths and the healing they too can facilitate.

This Saturday, May 5, is World Labyrinth Day–a day to recognize and celebrate this ancient practice as a means of present day prayer and centering.  Christine Sine compiled a very helpful resource list concerning the labyrinth practice.  Do check out her suggestions and resource links here.

And may you find a special place to participate in this experience; perhaps this sanctioned date will be an invitation for you to do so for the first time!  It may take a little research, but you’ll be surprised how many labyrinths are tucked in the quiet places of life around you.

If you are in the Seattle area, my personal favorite labyrinth is located at the Whidbey Institute on Whidbey Island.  It is a bit of a journey (nay, I’ll call it a pilgrimage) to get there, but well worth the process; a stone lined labyrinth residing under the embrace of an old growth forest awaits you.

Arrival: Holy Week

We ride into our beloved Jerusalem, the sacred destination of our wanderings these past many weeks.  Here we will shout our hopeful hosannas, weep with unexpected sorrow, and celebrate our ultimate Answer.  As we look about this place of our arrival, do we feel compelled to echo the behaviors of Jesus as he walked through the expectant streets towards Calvary?  What do you feel when you look across your living landscapes, when you touch your city’s wealthy and impoverished walls, when you are carried away in the lofty cathedrals?  Do you feel joy? Do you pray?  Do you weep?

Jesus, you wept for the city you loved – in your words and actions the oppressed found justice and the angry found release…. (prayer heading used on Iona)

The traveler has important tasks upon arriving to their final destination.  Because the entire journey has been intentionally marked and prayerfully pondered, so must the arrival.  This is the time to surround yourself with prayers, poems and hymns that anchor your place and provide the touchstone for this final experience.  Phil Cousineau speaks to the essential task of “feeling the thrill of completing your pilgrimage…If we remember that the word thrill originally referred to the vibrations the arrow made when it hits the target, than the pleasure is compounded.  There is joy in having arrived, moment by moment.”  We have come far on this Lenten pilgrimage; we have sacrificed, we have given, we have changed.

There is deep value in going through this seasonal process for what began in our winter, has now come to completion in our spring.  With fresh, vibrant colors surrounding us, we too see the contexts of our lives with fresh new eyes.  We hear with a new kind of clarity.  With this sense of lucidity, comes both gratitude and responsibility.  The appreciation for the lessons learned on the long journey translates to a new sense of obligation, a fresh response of advocacy.  We have come to love more deeply in this season and like Jesus, we weep with the depth of this love for Others and we know we cannot return to pre-pilgrimage ways.  We have been changed by the wintery road, and subsequently, so will be our home-lives.  New growth has sprung from the soil of the sojourn. How to respond to our changedness may seem overwhelming; in these moments we must pray and pray according to the lessons learned.

Today I share with you a beautiful Holy Week prayer written by the Iona Community’s Neil Paynter.  These beseeching words seem a fitting response to the Lenten Labyrinth where we have seen and witnessed the pain and suffering of our deepest selves, which is the pain of so many others.  May this prayer be yours today as you anchor into the ancient and present meanings of these most holy days.

—–

Visionary God, architect
of heaven and earth,
unless we build in partnership with you we labor in vain

Help us work to create cities
modeled more faithfully
on the plan of your Kingdom –

Communities where children are respected and encouraged
where young people can express themselves creatively
where the experience of old people is called on
where the insights and gifts of all God’s people are fully realized
where shared gardens and plots bloom in once derelict places
where all cultures and traditions are honored and celebrated
on soulful, carnival streets
where gay couples can dance to the beat of their hearts
homeless people are received with loving arms and open borders
news vendors cry Hosanna!
All are fed and loved and set free…

O God, our maker, open our eyes to new possibilities and perspectives,
organizations and projects, structures and outlooks…

Help us to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem:

to break down the barriers in ourselves that
prevent us from reaching out to neighbors and making peace;
to rebuild communities based on understanding and justice,
illuminated with the true light of Christ.

Amen

-Neil Paynter