Family Faith Practices – Journeying Toward God with a Labyrinth

Posted from an article – Family Daily Living Faith Practices by Christy Olson found on the Faith Formation 2020 web site.

From a small age, the faith practice of journeying toward God can be learned through use of a three­circuit labyrinth. The three-circuit (or circle) labyrinth is simple and can be painted on a 6-foot tarp or canvas (https://blogmymaze.wordpress.com/2009/11/09/the-3-circuit-classical-labyrinth/). The labyrinth is then folded away and brought out at times when discovering God through a journey is the goal. These times might include “looking for God” in a loss or a new accomplishment. By making an intentional journey to God with the labyrinth, families are reinforcing the idea that daily living, faith practices and God are uniquely linked.

Around the sacred space of the labyrinth, the family can explore the faith practice of journeying towards God together. This helps all members of the family understand the way we open ourselves up to the presence of God. The labyrinth represents the journey to God in a safe place. By using the labyrinth in the daily life of the family, the concept of the sacredness of each journey is discovered as well as an understanding of greater journeys in the lifelong faith of the individual. To have siblings gathered around the sacred space rather than the computer, toys or television, changes the family dynamics greatly.

There are a few general “suggestions” around using a 3-circuit labyrinth in the family. First, we open the labyrinth and fold the labyrinth together. In the sacred act of placing the labyrinth among our family we emphasize that our family is also sacred. Secondly, is that the space is sacred so we take off our shoes before walking. And lastly, we use quiet voices and silence as our means of communicating.

Activities surrounding the use of the three­circuit labyrinth in the family are in three general categories. First, activities can simply acknowledge the sacredness of the journey and the parts of beginning, arrival and ending. For the youngest family members this is enough. An example of such as activity might be as follows. (Materials needed: 3­circuit labyrinth, small bell.)

Stand together and hold the labyrinth as it is folded. One person reads these directions. This does not have to be an adult. “Close your eyes. Feel the presence of God and know that you are one of God’s special creations. Pause Open your eyes. Look at your family. Think of something your family shared recently. I wonder if anyone in the family made you smile, laugh or cry.” Pause. 

“Today we will have new experiences with our family and God is here. Let’s open the labyrinth carefully and place it on the floor together.” Remind everyone to take off shoes. 

“Let’s look at the circles on the labyrinth. There are three circles. Think about how they connect. Does anyone want to share what you see about the circles on the labyrinth?”Allow any members to share. “Now let’s talk about how we get into the labyrinth. Where is the opening in the circles?” “Where are we going if we walk the path?” “Why is it important to follow this path?” “I have a bell here. The bell is to ring so that we know you have entered the labyrinth. As soon as you hear the bell, we are all quiet until we hear the bell again to know that the person walking has left the labyrinth.” “Who would like to walk the labyrinth first?”As each person enters and leaves the labyrinth, ring the bell. Allow family members to move as slowly or quickly as they wish. After the bell is rung at the close of one journey, allow a little pause before someone else uses the labyrinth. If any member of the family uses the time in the labyrinth to be silly or showing off skills, use a quiet voice to bring that person back to the presence of God. “Doug is really being silly. He is showing us how God created him uniquely. God is present and knows what Doug is feeling in his heart.” Close the time together by carefully folding the labyrinth together and again holding it between you. No follow up questions are needed because processing happens in each individual heart. Prayer at the end offered by anyone is also appropriate. 

Labyrinth activities, like the above, emphasize God’s presence on the journey. This is easily transferred into the daily journeys of the family. The labyrinth can also be used to help families be thankful for creation. A family creation walk can result in the labyrinth becoming a place to put offerings from the walk. Individual members walk to the middle and put what they are thankful for in creation. This kind of activity helps families understand that the beauty in the world is also a gift from God.

Labyrinths are most often used as a place of prayer. The physical journey brings us closer to God. Families can use labyrinths as a form of prayer. On a family day of sabbath, open the labyrinth in shared space. By leaving the labyrinth open during the family time, it helps to emphasize the inherent sacredness of family. Prayer can happen by walking individually to the center for quiet time. Or a group family prayer can happen to begin the day. The message becomes that sacred space for prayer and reflection is not some place we have to go, but is where we already are.

As families use this faith practice of journeying in their daily life, the journeys that they take at other times will change. Families will begin to see that a trip to the grocery store is a special time where God is present. The safe return of a parent from work each day becomes a visible blessing. This is the purpose of daily faith practices in the family. Our goal is to help families see that their daily activities are sacred and important to God, moment­ by-moment and day-by-day.

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