Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Walking a Labyrinth: Tuesday's Reflection

Walking the Labyrinth at Chartres
Earlier this month I walked a labyrinth. 

In the first days of the new year I followed Christine Valters Paintner's online prompts to listen for "a word for the year." My word for the year. Paintner suggests letting a word find you that offers a "seed of invitation to cross a new threshold in your life." A word that will nourish, but also challenge.

The word (it can be more than one word) that had come to me was "open heart." A word that signaled to me a challenge to become more compassionate --to others, but also to myself. I could think of a number of situations in my life in which an extra dose of compassion was needed. A good word--one that would both nourish and challenge me--but I didn't feel quite "done" with the process of finding my word.

Off to the labyrinth. As I stood at the opening of the journey, I asked to know the direction, the focus of this year. How am I to best use my energies in the coming year? In what ways am I to live with an open heart?

As always, it took me a turn or two before I was able to slow down on the path and find my rhythm. I walked bending my knees low to the ground, a sense almost of doing T'ai Chi. I stopped frequently to notice where I was and what was around me, to keep the big picture in mind. Even when the labyrinth path swung me further away from the center, I knew I was moving forward. I felt affirmed in the decisions about how to spend my days. "Now is the time. Use this time," Spirit seemed to say.

And then there I was. In the center. With my eyes closed, I took deep breaths. I whispered a prayer of gratitude for the journey, even the hard places and unexpected detours, and transitions that seemed to keep me stuck for far too long. I relaxed in the center, relishing the feeling of being held and supported. 

"Warm the space you are in." The voice of Spirit in my head and heart, through my whole body, actually, couldn't have been clearer. "Warm the space you are in." I moved from petal to petal in the center. In each petal I felt warm light move from the bottom of my feet all the way up the trunk of my body to the top of my head. 

Ah, this is it. This is my word for the year. It has found me, instead of me finding it.

I don't know exactly what "warm the space you are in" means. It feels like an affirming word, but also a reminder. In my role as a spiritual director my hope is to offer a place of safety and sanctuary to anyone who is seeking to know themselves through a deeper relationship with God. A warm space. 

I will sit with this word. I will reflect and watch for ways to make this word manifest in the world. I trust the power of this word will be revealed in the weeks and months to come, and I am okay with that. 

An Invitation
Have you received a word for the year? What is nudging you to pay attention? I would love to know. 



  1. Oh, I love your 'word.' It seems both a comfort and a challenge... which is a powerful mix. It made me think of this Rumi quote that I added to a collage board for my 2016 word:

    "Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place."

    PS: my word arrived while I was walking the labyrinth at Wisdom Ways, too. It had been hovering on the fringes of a few other ideas, but it was in the walking meditation of the labyrinth that the knowing arrived.

  2. Thank you so much for the Rumi quote. I felt a vibration within as I read that. A gift--as you are.

  3. My word for the year is "soar." It just popped into my mind when I starting thinking about a word when we were in Mexico over New Year's. My hope is that this word leads me to a big change in my career this year, but that it also helps me embody my desire to feel light and strong and capable of anything. To celebrate my word, I went parasailing - about as close to actual soaring as you can get!

  4. Wonderful word! You have always represented "soaring" to me. May this be a year that fulfills that dream for you.


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