July 4th 2011
“Mountain Streams are so nice” my roommate said as our group of DUS interns all stepped into the stream that ran along the place where we were having class. We’d come up a thousand more miles in elevation to spend the morning walking a Labyrinth and enjoy a few hours of quiet time in a town that was lost in time. On all sides the rocky mountains rose and fell, pine trees rose high like guardians on all sides, the stream played on the rocks and fisherman stood casting hoping to catch something in the fast moving water. The place you only hear about and long to go, and if you get the chance, by all means go!
For anyone who’s never done it, Labyrinth walking is a spiritual discipline. As we enter we are letting go, praying to God that he will take our insecurities and requests. When you walk through sometimes you are close to the center and other times you are wondering if you’re ever going to get near it again. When you arrive at the center it symbolizes the heart of God and you just sit there and lavish the time of prayer and reflection. As you leave it is to symbolize you returning to the world. I’ve wanted to practice this discipline for about a month and a half, after I read about it in Christian George’s “God-ol-o-gy” I never thought when I did it how deeply it would affect me.
First off, my relationship with God has always been one of conversation, he knows I need to hear that still small voice so it speaks a little louder to my heart. I don’t always listen to it, but because of my silence that has consumed my life for the week because of the challenge I was ready to hear that voice. I’d also awakened this morning with a deep sadness and depression dragging my heart down, that prepared me for my time in the Labyrinth.
As I began God entered the quiet little valley and began the conversation, I admitted I had things I needed to let go of and he began revealing to me all the things I needed to let go of and then he began taking me to the darkest places of my life. “I was here” he would whisper “I was here when John died, I was here when you felt alone, I was there, before you knew me as Lord and savior, I was there” He would then stop me and have me look around. Two of my fellow interns were following me at this time, He would show me that at times I felt alone, or at times I felt close to others and then He’d gently whisper again “I was there” He would also show me how far I was from the center at times and it was very symbolic of how sometimes in our lives we feel far from God.
Once I reached the center I had to sit down, I had to just take in that wonderful beautiful heart that is the heart of God. “I am Here!” He would whisper in this place, “I am here” and I felt his presence in a way that I haven’t felt in a long time. I sat there for a second, hugged one of my fellow travelers who was also in the center and began my journey back. The way back God kept me moving all the while whispering “I will be there, be still” reminding me that as I hurried towards my future wherever that is He would be there with me and that I needed to take time to be still!
The river is like us in the labyrinth sometimes, it rushes to its destination not even knowing where that might be. Sometimes the stream moves fast and sometimes it is soft and quiet, flowing slowly. There are times is our lives when we need to move quickly, times when deadlines, (like the one on the paper I’m starting soon) are upon us and we need to finish them. Then there are times we need to slow down, I’ve said it before and this week I’m finding out how true this is. Sometimes we just need to sit on top of a rock by a mountain stream after walking a Labyrinth and eat our lunch and spend time with God in solitude.
Corporate and community worship are tremendous things, they give a chance to spend time with God together, they allow us to share in an experience and experience God’s presence in a community. But God needs to get us alone sometimes, He really does his best work when we slow down and show Him the person we’ve been hiding from the world.
“The best way to love Jon” our teacher said “Is to tell him to sit under a tree and let God tell him who he is” I encourage you to sit under a tree and let God tell you who you are. Don’t let friends or activities define you or how much you are worth but instead let Jesus tell you who you are. Walk a Labyrinth, then find a pastor or Christian friend to talk to and share that experience with, to help you unpack it. Figure out the best way that others can love you by sitting under a tree and letting God tell you who you really are!