A Brief History
Labyrinths have offered Christians spiritual solace since they emerged in churches in the twelfth century. After pilgrimages to Jerusalem and other locations in the Holy Land became too dangerous and costly, the people of medieval Europe needed a new way to take a spiritual journey, to work out the strife caused by fearsome wars and plagues. Labyrinths, such as the one on the floor of Chartres Cathedral (opposite), in France, became the answer.
A Prayer in Motion
The shape of the labyrinth makes it a mystical prayer tool. Like a formal prayer, a labyrinth has a distinct beginning and end. Its snaking, circuitous path leads toward a central point, then back out again. When you start a labyrinth, your awareness shifts to your steps; your outside thoughts and distractions fade away. The pathway serves as both a visual and a physical cue, helping you turn your attention inward, toward the prayer, challenge or emotion that you are working on. Walking a labyrinth at an easy, natural pace aligns your mental progression into deep prayer and meditation with the physical movement that mirrors it.
The Labyrinthian Journey
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The Christmas Clock
It was December 2012, a week before Christmas. I was sitting alone at my kitchen table in Missouri, watching the hands of my Christmas clock tick toward the hour. I was waiting to hear it play “Silent Night,” which it did every night at 11 o’clock. The tune always lifted my spirits. But the second hand passed the hour mark without a peep. My heart sank. The music mechanism must have broken. You couldn’t have picked a better metaphor for my life—I kept on ticking, but the joy was missing.
Q&A: William Peters
A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE HEALING POWER OF SHARED DEATH EXPERIENCES
We were only 48 hours into our family’s three-week road trip when the car broke down. White smoke billowed from the engine. The dashboard warning lights went on.
“I saw a butterfly,” my mother said with a shy smile. It was the first time I’d seen her smile since my father’s death the week before. After a seven-year period of steadily declining health, he’d passed away in his bed at home, surrounded by his wife and three daughters. It was a peaceful end to his suffering, but saying goodbye was still difficult. We all missed him terribly. Especially Mami.
Wings and a Prayer
I heard the front door to our apartment open and walked over to see my mom returning home from the laundromat. She had tears in her eyes.
It was a sunny October day. My husband, Anthony, and I sat with our three kids—Ella, seven; Luca, five; and Zoe, two—as they drew with sidewalk chalk in the driveway. The whole family was enjoying the last bit of nice weather before the winter. Everything felt warm and peaceful.
Secrets of the Labyrinth
I WAS AT THE ENTRY OF Battery Park’s Labyrinth of Contemplation in New York City. A winding pathway of rocks and grass stretched out before me. After studying labyrinths for weeks, I wanted to try one. I’d learned that these fantastical, circuitous pathways can act as prayer tools, helping calm the mind and soul. I sure needed that. Beyond this quiet park, the city had been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Though cases were down and things seemed to be improving, I still felt overwhelmed and uncertain about the future. Will I find the spiritual comfort I’m looking for? I wondered. Adjusting my face mask, I took a deep breath and began….
An Unexpected Visitor
I couldn’t even sort through the first box of our dog Bama’s toys without bursting into tears. My husband, Alan, found me sitting on the floor in our utility room, clutching our late boxer’s favorite squeaky. He gently pulled me to my feet. “It’s okay, Lisa,” he said.
Whenever I think about the Transfiguration, my mind travels back to the fifth- and sixth-grade Sunday school class I once coached to act it out for the congregation. The task seemed nearly impossible.
I stepped out of the federal prison in South Dakota after a decade behind bars and breathed a sigh of relief. I’d served my time. But I wasn’t just free. I was a new man. Honestly, I doubted anyone who knew me before would recognize me. I hardly recognized me.
Built by Angels
My mother called to ask if I knew the story of the 11 churches carved from single stones in Ethiopia
I know a man whose family moved to the United States from South Korea when he was elementary school age. He has vivid memories of feeling as if something had been torn away; an abrupt disconnection from the culture he loved and the life that made sense to him. He was replanted in a country, neighborhood, and school where everyone spoke a language he had not mastered. He was harassed and mistreated by the other children because he didn’t look like them.
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Cling to Jesus
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Long live the perennials
Rob Smith takes a look at vegetables that you plant once and then keep on cropping for a year or more