On the first Sunday of each month on a beautiful beach in St. Augustine, Florida, the Friends of the Labyrinth wait for the tide to go out. As soon as there is enough damp, compact sand available they set to work and create several labyrinths in the sand.
A labyrinth is an ancient symbol known to go back 3,500 years, and may be even older. Labyrinths appeared on most of the inhabited continents in prehistoric times. Many people confuse a labyrinth with a maze, but they are different. A maze is more of a puzzle and the walker has to work out which is the correct path to the center. It is intended as a form of entertainment.
The labyrinth is a walking meditation design and holds no trick paths to confuse the walker. It has a single winding path from the outer edge to the center and back out again. This walk represents the journey inward to our true selves, our “Higher Selves”, our Spirit, our God-Center, and then back out again to the outer world.
Some people use the following process when they walk the labyrinth.
- releasing of concerns and worries on the journey in
- centering meditation, prayer, or quiet contemplation in the
- empowerment of new thoughts or intentions on the way out
However, everyone is free to use the labyrinth as he or she wishes.
Today I walked the labyrinth at St. Augustine. It was a gorgeous sunny day with magnificent cloudscapes against a cerulean sky. There was a wonderful warm breeze that caressed the skin. My friend Lorelei, who creates the labyrinth, had in fact drawn five or six different ones in the damp sand.
There was the classic seven circuit labyrinth and the famous eleven circuit labyrinth based on the one incorporated into the floor of the Notre Dame de Chartres cathedral just outside Paris, which was created around the year 1200 AD. Lorelei had also designed a magnificent fifteen circuit labyrinth as well as two smaller “Baltic” labyrinths, which reminded me of the female womb.
So with the sun on my face and the breeze in my hair I entered the fifteen circuit labyrinth. Within a few steps I realized that almost without thinking I had slowed down internally and I was totally focused on walking the path. This brought me right into the here and now, the present moment, which is where I always desire to be. Because of this process, I automatically let go of any worrisome thoughts.
After a few minutes, I stopped my walking and closed my eyes just to enjoy this feeling, of being present to where I was in that very moment in time. I became aware of the sound of the sea, the waves crashing onto the beach, the distant voices of children as they played in the sand or the water. I lifted my face to the sun and thanked God for the joy and the peace of this moment.
I then opened my eyes and watched the surf spraying as the waves crashed. I saw the seagulls swooping through the air and in the distance I could see several kites flying with long tails fluttering in the breeze. Running swiftly back and forth at the water’s edge were groups of sandpipers checking out what tasty morsels the sea was washing up to shore for them. I found myself being grateful to be alive, to be able to enjoy this.
When I reached the center of the labyrinth I stopped again and brought to mind people who I wished to uplift to God. I asked that He bless and protect them, and I asked the same for myself. I stood there for a few minutes just enjoying being still, having no agenda, no need to move.
I then moved on to the outward journey. I felt a new energy sweeping through me. I found myself thinking of a dream that I want to manifest in my life. I held it close to my heart then offered it to God. I continued walking and became aware that I was breathing deeply, taking oxygen deeper into my lungs than usual. It felt so good to be alive! I stepped outside the labyrinth and just breathed.
After a moment or two I decided to walk the small Baltic labyrinth. Compared to the labyrinth I had just walked this was just the size of a babe in arms, maybe three yards in diameter. (The fifteen circuit one was approximately ten yards in diameter.) The feeling was completely different. There was a sense of intimacy, a warmth that surrounded me.
When I reached the center I sat down and did not want to come out. I felt protected, as though someone had put their arms around me. I hugged my knees up to my chest and thought, “this is what love is about”. I had the distinct feeling that I was “home”. I was, in fact, with my God-Center. I stayed for quite a while before coming out.
If you have never walked a labyrinth, then I highly recommend that you try. It is another way to create that quiet time. It is a wonderful stress reducer and a beautiful way to connect with Creator. You can find more information at www.labyrinthsociety.org. Happy walking!!
My quiet time in the morning is totally sacred to me. I come out into my screened room with my books of reflective thoughts and I sit with God. This is the most important part of my day. It helps to set the tone of my heart, soul, and mind and prepares me for the day ahead.
When I am in my screened room I am surrounded by nature. There is my garden, which I tend to in the best fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants fashion, with its green grass and beds full of bright nodding flowers. The old WalMart gazebo wrought-iron frame sits over the central flower bed with hanging wind chimes and colorful hummingbird feeders as well as Confederate Jasmine and Trumpet Vine climbing up each corner post. And a statue of Quan (Kuan) Yin, the Buddhist goddess of compassionate loving kindness nestles below at the base of a Magnolia shrub.
The large flower bed to the left is dedicated to many green plants and shrubs. A statue of St. Francis of Assisi peeks out from a widespread clump of tall Mexican Petunias. This bed also holds a beautiful Roserie de l’Hay, a rose bush that carries deep pink, almost purple blooms that my sister gave us because of the family name (Hay). There is also a small lemon tree that my son Marco gifted to us on a visit a few years ago.
The flower bed in the right hand corner of the garden has large prosperous Chinese Privets, a Cassis tree, and a Chaste tree. The highlight of this bed is a concrete circle that I have installed with a small bird bath in the centre. Surrounding the bird bath are many different shallow ceramic, pottery, and glass containers full of stones, crystals and shells from all over the world. Larger stones and small rocks stand freely between the containers. This is my way of bringing the world together in harmony.
Behind the back fence we are blessed with a small pine wood. This is a source of continuous delight for me. It is full of wild life. Squirrels play in the tree tops and we have an abundance of bird life: cardinals, blue jays, mourning doves, blue birds, tit mice, mockingbirds, woodpeckers, kingbirds, wrens, vireos, warblers, sparrows, crows, and hawks. How can I not feel close to God in such surroundings? With such beauty all around me how can I not find inner peace and solace no matter what may be troubling my heart?
And so I come each morning to quiet my body and just sit still, to quiet my mind ridding it of all worldly pressures and stresses, and to quiet my heart and make any burden less important than God’s presence. If I can shake the noise of the world, the better I can hear God’s voice. If I can silence the busyness that the world creates for me then I stand a chance of creating an inner sanctuary where I find rest and restoration.
God is waiting for me to create this space so that He can enter in and bless me. It is In this silence, in this space of peace, that I can enter into intimacy with God and create and grow a wonderful relationship with Him. It is through this relationship that I can then bless all the other relationships in my life.
It has taken me many years to give this gift of quiet time to myself. For those of you who follow my writings you will remember “Sabbath With Georgina”. That is when and where I had my first real taste of “quiet time”. I have often struggled with the “demon voices” that told me “this is a waste of time”, “you need to get on with (whatever)”, “you have nothing to gain and life is passing you by”, “what’s the point? Who’s listening to you?”.
Today I allow nothing and no one to interfere with my precious quiet time. Whatever my first “outside” appointment of the day may be, I allow at least two hours prior to that for me and my God. This is how I feed my soul and develop my spiritual life. This is where I begin the joy that fills my day.