Carving out time, creating space, allowing an opening for the sacred to become present and tangible. . . These are gifts that a church community can create and which many in our wider communities long for. Consider exploring some of the following ideas.
Set up a prayer room in your church, school or in a 'tabernacle' in your local market square. (Where is your local "market square" - the meeting place of your town or village?)
Offer a variety of 'stations' of prayer, e.g:
- Have a pile of stones that people can place in the bowl of water as an act of confession, or of letting go of hurts and anxieties.
- Have gummed paper strips available on which people can write prayers for peace and justice in the world and then link them together to form a chain.
- Set up a 'Thanksgiving' board where people can pin up notes of things they wish to thank God for.
- Use candles as a focus for silent prayer.
- Have Bible passages on pieces of card for people to reflect on and then take away.
- Use music - either to create an atmosphere for the whole prayer space, or through headphones for individual
The labyrinth is a model of a path used through the ages as a tool for pilgrimage, meditation or prayer. This ancient symbol creates a sacred space and leads us out of our ego to ‘that which is within’.
"You are on the path; exactly where you’re meant to be right now and from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of healing, of courage, of beauty, of dignity and of love." (Caroline Adams)
Both the imagery of the circle and of the spiral that make up the labyrinth combine to form a winding, purposeful path representing our journey to the centre of our deepest self and back out again into the world with a broadened understanding of who we are. Transcending barriers of difference, the labyrinth welcomes everyone, bringing people together to share the common path of life.
If you are new to the labyrinth, you might wish to explore the idea first on your own. You can download this guide and trace the labyrinth with your finger.
As well as in a church hall, you may consider using chalk or rope to lay out a labyrinth in a public place, such as a shopping mall, local park or school and encouraging people to enter into a journey of prayer.
For inspiration about labyrinths visit:
Here is one outdoor labyrinth - a paved structure outside Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco, California. The cathedral's website provides this short guide to walking a labyrinth:
Three stages of the walk
- Purgation (Releasing) ~ A releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. This is the act of shedding thoughts and distractions. A time to open the heart and quiet the mind.
- Illumination (Receiving) ~ When you reach the center, stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.
- Union (Returning) ~ As you leave, following the same path out of the center as you came in, you enter the third stage, which is joining God, your Higher Power, or the healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work for which you feel your soul is reaching.
Visit the Grace Cathedral website.
Please note you may have to 'enable Flash player' in your browser to use the online labyrinths on these sites.