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Archive for May 6th, 2015

Labyrinth of Love and Life - 2

Photo and Book by artist and author Catherine Anderson
http://www.catherineandersonstudio.com/

“Dear Susan,

May the path of the labyrinth support and hold you in love. Blessings and Joy, Catherine 2014.”

Catherine opens her beautifully written and illustrated book with the following observation: “We are not all fortunate enough to have a labyrinth in our backyard to walk whenever we feel the call to connect with the winding path of the labyrinth. This journal can be a place to turn when you yearn for the calming path of the labyrinth.”

Actually, Catherine and I are fortunate ones to actually have a labyrinth in our own backyards. She, just outside her home art studio, where I have been blessed to both walk her labyrinth in peace and gratitude for what both prayer and artistic creativity add to my life…and I, in the backyard of the home I feel graced to have found with my loving husband Tom, to live and enjoy our golden years and our golden Michigan sunsets off our deck just above our labyrinth.

IMG_4284Receding winter of ’15 and the labyrinth reappears

IMG_1837SoulCollage Facilitator Training Weekend with Catherine, 2014

As happy as I am to have the labyrinth in our yard, I still find it challenging to explain its essence to others without going “too deep into the weeds” in way of explanation. I, myself, first found it through Canon Rev. Lauren Artress of Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco.

I was at a weekend retreat at the Dominican Weber Center in Adrian Michigan on Centering Prayer. But her little black paperback book attracted me in the bookstore, “Walking a Sacred Path.” Eventually, my sacred path led Tom and me to Grace Cathedral, where we experienced another retreat and I completed training in Labyrinth facilitation. We also walked both Chartres designed labyrinths there; one on the Cathedral interior floor, the other just out the door, on the piazza, high on top the hills of San Francisco.  Within a couple more years, we pilgrimaged, once again, to spend a week in Chartres France and attend a retreat on the labyrinth and Sacred Geometry, upon which the cathedrals of medieval times were built. We resided in the Catholic seminary housing right next to the the Chartres Cathedral, originally built in the 1300s, I believe. We walked within it and around it many, many times, photographing  ad infinitum the architecture, sculpture and stained glass phenomenon that it was.

Chartres Cathedral

Chartres Cathedral is famed for its stained glass windows, the largest representations of Mary in all cathedrals and its labyrinth dating back to medieval times when pilgrims traveled to it for their annual pilgrimage when they could not travel to other holy sites due to wars and dangers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATom and I were here in May 2000.

So what does the labyrinth have to do with our life and our love?

One simple way of explaining the labyrinth is that it is a metaphor for life…..this certainly works for me!  The circular pattern, once begun, yearns ever for the center. And you begin toward that center in wide sweeping circular paths and motions. You are free to stop anywhere along the path, for what?  A breath? A silent message sounding in your heart? A casual gaze upon the blessings of nature and people around you?  A time-out?

Who, among us, doesn’t do this in real life and actually need to do this? Not I, for I need them all to feel the center in my self.  Or the lack of it.  I may know where I am going.  I may think I know where I am going. I may know that I DON’T know where I am going.  I need to feel the Presence of the ONE who does know.

The labyrinth can represent this ONE, by whatever name we call it….for it has many. God, Source, Universe, Yaweh, and so many others.

The path on the labyrinth is not a maze…. you are never blocked once you have begun the walk. no matter the difficulty, no matter the shortness or length of the path, it continues inward and to the center. You experience turns, expected, and sometime when lost interiorly as you walk, a sudden turn appears abruptly.

These are the same types of turns, expectations, interruptions I experience in my married life. Certainly, Tom’s and my union and love resulted in many, many more changes of location than I would have ever anticipated. But on we went, supporting each other, working out the difficulties, enjoying the overflowing joys, and managing many, many times of “letting go” as we journeyed.

And that is what the inward journey on the labyrinth is about…..letting go…..letting it  be……trusting……willingness…..mesmerized by watching your feet take……that one step at a time……seeing only a small part of the total bigness of the path, yet trusting that it is there for you.

Reaching the center, we feel open to receive gifts…what gifts? Any that come, receiving them in faith. For our marriage, I receive the fullness of nearly 50 years of the commitment spoken in our vows so many years ago.  And just like one step at a time,  I know it was not a “once only” commitment to  I do.  No, for us, the words once spoken to us by a priest during some of our Marriage Encounter years ring very true.  “In marriage, you do not speak the words  ‘I do’  only on your wedding day, you speak and live them every day of your married life.”

married

When you leave the center on your walk on the labyrinth, you walk freely, retracing the path that brought you into the center; it will likewise lead you back out to the world, bringing with you the gifts received in the center and being fully ready to share those gifts with others.  If you have walked mindfully, you are returning from the labyrinth reminded of who you truly are —  which is gift itself– and you have been gently guided back  in balance from the calming path of the labyrinth.

In truth, over the course of fifty years of marriage, there are many opportunities for just the opposite of calm and balance to exist between the partners, and that has been true for us. I have appreciated and strongly relied upon the people and experiences in my life that have built up my faith and my optimism in myself and in my partner and in our life together.  Because even with all the “rock ‘n roll” we’ve met along the way, today I can truthfully say…..

I count it all as grace and my heart overflows in gratitude for the life and love I have in Tom and family.

19691969

IMG_61392015

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Devereaux - Lift up My SoulImage by Angie Devereux (c)

The words below are not mine but I have copied them from the words of a reading I did during a quiet time meditation. They touched me deeply as I try to apply them to a time in our world where Christians are being persecuted, tortured and killed simply for the act of being Christian. It astounds me that as a young child, I tried to imagine the courage of the martyrs in the early Christian era, being sought after, persecuted and killed.

So many revolutions of the planet later with the passage of more than 2,000 years and the same exists today for millions of people, seeking some safe haven from their own homelands from those who would kill them for being Christian. My heart can hardly hold this.

So I ask myself too, “How is it that we are not living from the center of love?”

From a reflection in the April 2015 Magnificat
“….I believe that we all came from love. That the Love that is All begat us as individualized human love. That we are made in Love’s image and likeness. So I wonder as I look back across the eons of time and into our present times across our planet, “how did we get this so wrong”. How is it that we are not living from a center of love? How is it that it takes great effort and awareness to BE love in our world, in our lives, in our relationships to our loved ones, friends, and strangers?

I believe the most radical religion on earth today is Christianity. It tells us we must love. Its founder, the Christ Jesus lived a life that showed us just how radical this life of Christianity is and designated others to continue the message and the life of a Christian.

Love our enemies? Turn the other cheek? Be not afraid?”
“For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” John 18:37

“Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid”. John 14:27

Witness of Peace – Pope Benedict XVI

“In every person the desire for peace is an essential aspiration which coincides in a certain way with the desire for a full, happy, and successful human life…Man is made for peace which is God’s gift…In effect, peace presupposes a humanism open to transcendence. It is the fruit of the reciprocal gift of mutual enrichment which has its source in God and enables us to live with others and for others…Peace is the building up of a co-existence in rational and moral terms, based on a foundation whose measure is not created by man, but by God.”

Note from Napkinwriter:

So still, in my life, I am seeking to be this radical person of love in my personal life, believing that somehow, along with my prayers, that my tiny contribution will somehow send a tiny ripple out to touch the larger world…..that I can plant a seed…..that this seed will not fall upon rock….that it will bear the fruit of love from an enriched soil and a plant that regularly bears “pruning back” and speaking and acting only from a radical love that serves its highest purpose.

Lofty? Perhaps. Attainable? On some days. Worthy goal? Absolutely. Covered with grace by the Benedictine precept of……Each Day, We Begin Again.

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