by Dan Peeler
Minister for Children and Families
…let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight” I Peter 3.4b
A Word of Hope
Today, the day before Christmas Eve, the Cathedral’s Order of St. Francis and St. Clare will be sponsoring another of our labyrinth walks. This will be the last walk of the year and the second one we’ve hosted in the sacred space of the Interfaith Peace Chapel. From 2 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. we will pause from the holiday rush to experience calming, meditative music in the candle-lit enclosure covered wall to wall with our canvas labyrinth. The labyrinth was created with love about 10 years ago by countless members of the congregation, on their knees with indelible markers, filling in the city blocks of guide lines we had drawn. God’s eventual plan for the labyrinth became quite evident when we first set it up in the new chapel. It’s a perfect fit.
Walking a labyrinth is an ancient and unique form of prayer and meditation that often has a profound spiritual effect on the participant. It’s not surprising to me that those long-ago labyrinth designers used the concentric circle as their basic layout, since the circle is the symbol of the Eternal God, with no beginning and no end. This walking meditation can be a journey into the very heart of God. The stories I’ve been privileged to hear from walkers confirm this, as they tell me of experiences of peace, healing of the soul, visions of a better life, forgiveness; the things God’s presence inspires.
From a practical standpoint, the act of concentrating on the silent walk is an excellent method of shutting out the distractions of the world and entering into a state of meditation. M.I.T. Physicist, Dr. Claude Swanson observes, “Meditation is often considered to be a ‘quieting of the mind,’ because the talking part of the mind becomes silent. The verbal and analytical processes cease. But Brain wave (EEG) studies show that actually the brain becomes more ‘coherent’ in meditation. This means that the firings of the billions of neutrons in the brain become more ‘in step’ with one another. The electrical impulses from all the cells become less random, less independent.”
As we progress on a meditative journey toward the center of the labyrinth, our minds actually become more “in step,” more coherent of God’s focus for us; a much needed exercise at Christmas time.
May my every walk be a walk with you.