The idea of walking a labyrinth as a spiritual discipline came to my attention relatively late in life. And when it did I couldn't and didn't make much sense of it.
I was tempted then to dismiss labyrinth walking as kind of a New Age practice that was in some ways self-centered and finally not very meaningful.
But over recent decades I've been exposed to more and more labyrinths and they seem to have gained a place of respect in traditional religious practice as a way of centering one on the One. I still won't say that walking a labyrinth does much for me, but I think I understand better how that can be of spiritual benefit.
I think that's especially true if you walk a labyrinth with other people -- as some of us did last weekend at a church family camp retreat for my congregation at Heartland Presbyterian Center near Parkville, Mo. (The photo here today shows some of our folks on the labyrinth's path.)
It turns out there's even a Labyrinth Society to promote the use of them. Surf around there and see what you see. In fact, if you work your mouse right you can walk the website (I think).
The idea of moving toward a center, a unity, a heart intrigues me. And that's some of what a labyrinth is designed to do. But the exercise often simply has me wishing I could take a long, straight, brisk walk without so much work to do and thought to give to it. But that's just me.
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TRACKING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
I may come back to this topic later, but I wanted you to know that the 2014 annual report on religious freedom has just been issued by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. It's an important report and worth a read. I'm linking you to the press release about it, but that release contains a link to the actual report.
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P.S.: I hope you'll consider lending a financial hand to The National Catholic Reporter, for which I write a biweekly column. NCR's work relies on contributions from folks who appreciate the good work it does. If you'd like to help, click here.