Hand Drawing a Labyrinth Meditation – Prayerful Tuesday

Drawing a Cretan or Classical Labyrinth

Note: the artist is making a right hand labyrinth, instruction are for a left hand labyrinth. 
The method is the same; the difference is the starting point,
which is from the top left hand short angle line to the top long center line.

I love walking a labyrinth, whether in an indoor or outdoor setting. It is one of the best ways to find the stillness within I need to hear the voice of the Divine.  But sometimes I am nowhere near a labyrinth, so in that case I will use a finger labyrinth. But I don’t always carry one with you, so, what I do is draw my own labyrinth. Drawing a labyrinth can also be a meditative act, which can be done anywhere or anytime I have a few moments to spare.

I have provided the following instruction for drawing the Classical (or Cretan) Labyrinth, which is the simplest to draw.   As you sit down with your paper, take a deep breath to center yourself.  Offer a prayer of intention and begin to draw.  As you make your seed pattern and connect each of the lines and dots give yourself to the process, letting the growing Labyrinth enter into your prayers and meditation.  When you are finished use your finger or pencil too “walk” your labyrinth just as you would with any finger labyrinth.  When you have “exited” offer a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude for these moments of stillness.

Instructions for Drawing Classical (Cretan) Labyrinth

The best way to draw a labyrinth is to begin with a pencil and paper (you might want to include eraser?) We do not know who found it out or invented it, but this method is ingeniously simple and with practice easy to repeat.

It is very important to place your pattern such that you have sufficient space paper for the following steps. Draw the pattern into the lower half of your sheet of paper just slightly left of the center line, making sure you leave enough space on the right and left side and above.

First you draw the basic seed pattern that consists of 4 dots in a square. Inside draw an equal-leg cross. And into each of the 4 small squares resulting I draw a small angle.

Fig. 1
Fig. 1

 

Fig. 2. Seed Pattern
Fig. 2. Seed Pattern

 

 

Next you will begin to connect the dots and lines, in sequence, from the left to the right, clockwise all in arc-shaped lines as shown in Fig 3 and Fig. 4

Fig. 3
Fig. 3 The First Arc

 

Fig. 4
Fig. 4 Three of the Equally Spaced Arcs

Begin with the middle line (see Fig. 3 above) this is the center.

Now connect the next free end of the line on the left side to the free dot on the right side with an arc equal distant from the first arch (Fig. 4).  Continue drawing arcs from left to right.  After all of the left side lines and dots have been connected there should be a gap between the bottom left short angle line and the bottom long center line, that is the entrance. Your Labyrinth should look like Fig. 5, if it doesn’t simply start over. Using your finger or a pencil  to “walk” your completed Labyrinth.

Fig. 5 The Finished Labyrinth
Fig. 5 The Finished Labyrinth

 

May your find the stillness within as you walk the labyrinth in it’s many and diverse ways.
Ruth Jewell, ©September 30, 2014

Praying With Nature – Prayerful Tuesday

Vancouver, BC Oct, 2013
Vancouver, BC Oct, 2013

Last night was the Autumnal Equinox.  The Sun crossed that imaginary line in the sky called the celestial equator from north to south.  Spring begins in the southern hemisphere and fall officially begins here in the north.  I don’t know about you but I’ve been feeling ‘fall’ for some time now.  The nights are cooler, the air has that dried leaf smell to it and the light, well, just looks different, fallish you might say. But with all things human we have to have a point in space and time that defines what we already know to be. We humans can be silly.

While summer is my favorite time I have to admit fall has its good points.  There is nothing like taking a walk in the park, leaves crunching beneath my feet, red gold above my head and a blue sky the color of which you only see in fall. This is the time of year I make a pilgrimage into our neighborhood park, Yost Park, and find a quiet corner to sit and pray with nature.  A thank you prayer for a lovely summer, a pray of gratitude that I am able to experience the joys, and beauty of all the seasons.  I reflect on the past summer and all of the joy and sorrow it brought.  As I gaze at the now flaming trees amongst the dark evergreens I allow memory’s to surface of past falls, and allow myself to sink into that deep connection to nature that comes only from giving me permission to feel the creative life of the surrounding world now slowing into slumber.  I often remember past fall walks with my father.  We used to walk through our fields that were once green and bursting with life but now covered in a sleepy haze the ground began to enter its winter sleep.

Fall is a good time for reflection, a time to take stock, a time to remember, and a time for rest. So for this week’s prayer practice I would like to offer you a Prayer of Examen with nature. Being outside and experiencing the smells and sights of the natural world often triggers memories of past walks by yourself or with others.  It gives the experience of the Examen a very immediate and fresh sense, allowing the  old memories to open  a deeper connection to the creator in today’s moment.

Prayer of Examen with Nature:

  1. Take 30 minutes, or more if you like, and go for a walk outside. Find a quiet place where you may sit without interruption.  Note: leave your cell phone at home.
  2. Let this time be just between you and God. In whatever way is most comfortable for you ask the Holy Spirit to guide your memories through your imagination.
  3. As you sit allow a memory to surface of an experience from the past summer or from a previous year where you felt deeply connected with nature and creation.
  4. In your imagination, visit your memory, recall details such as colors, smells, and sounds, even tasted. Take your time in remembering the details. If you have your journal with you may want to write them down.
  5. Walk through your memory, turning it around and viewing it from different angles. Are you with someone, or alone? Where was it? Was it a joyful memory or one that tugs at the heart with sadness?  Not all fall memories are happy ones and those that cause us grief can be just as meaningful as the joyful one.  Linger with your memory; let it soak in.
  6. When you feel you have spent sufficient time with your meditation notice how you feel at this moment and offer any gratitude that arises. Express thankfulness to God in the way that is most natural for you.  You may want to express your gratitude for the part of nature you have spent this time, recognizing the part it played in your imagination.
  7. You may wish to write your insights in your journal or just what you did or did not notice in your memory for later reflection.

May your time of reflection and rest in your quiet corner of creation help shape how you see and experience nature in the coming days and years.  May all creation bless you with rest and healing.

Ruth Jewell, ©September 23, 2014

Eating Locally as a Spiritual Practice – Prayerful Tuesday

Harvest Time
Harvest Time

 

What does it mean to eat locally grown foods?  Well it doesn’t mean you eat only food grown in your area.  Rather it means you understand the importance of food or, as my friend David Bell says (Eating Locally, Artistically, justbetweentheridges.wordpress.com), the sacredness of food.  Eating food from a neighbor or a local farmer has less impact on the environment than food grown at great distance from us.  There are few transportation costs, less gas and oil means a smaller carbon footprint.  Most local farmers use fewer pesticides or none at all that leads to less contamination of the environment and fewer chemicals to which we are exposed.  The food is fresher because we are buying directly from the farmer we they can pick the fruit and produce at its peak instead of early because they don’t have to transport it as far.  That leads to better nutrition for us and our families.  The relationships built with farmers means you know where your food comes from and how it is produced.  Those are some of the benefits but what about the sacredness of food?

Well, food is sacred. It is a gift from the Holy Presence to feed our bodies and when we separate ourselves from where it originates we lose a connection with the Holy that is basic to life itself. Throughout scripture food plays an important role in the relationship with God, and with the people of the bible. In Genesis God provided food for Adam and Eve, when they were banned from the Garden God still provided for them.  The Israelites are fed by God with food from heaven; Elijah is cared for by angels; and at the end of his 40 days of temptation, the angels provided for Jesus. Ultimately we celebrate the sacredness of food every Sunday when we bless bread and cup and offer the feast of Jesus at the communion table. Food is important not just to our physical well being but to our spiritual well being as well.  The work a farmer does is not only necessary to our existence it is a holy occupation, a sacred act, a connection between God, earth and us.

This week spiritual practice is to offer thanks at each meal for the food you eat.  Here is the table prayer I use, you may use it or one of your own:

Holy Giver of Life, I thank you for this food before me, thank you for the earth in which it was grown, thank you for sun and rain that nurtured, thank you for the farmer who harvested it, and thank for the hands that prepared it.  May this food feed our bodies as you feed our souls.  Amen.

May your week be filled with wonderful food and abundant grace.

Ruth Jewell, ©September 16, 2014

Eating Locally, Artistically

The work a farmer does is not only necessary to our existence it is a holy occupation, a sacred act, a connection between God, earth and us.

Ridged Valley Reflections

14.09.13

September 13, 2014

Belinda and I were asked to join a ten-day program to eat locally. Folk were hoping to get some statistics on how hard it is to eat food from within a 100-mile radius of our home. We didn’t join in, but it is harvest time and what isn’t grown in our garden is by one of our neighbors. This is our vegetarian time of year and local eating is easy.

The local movement has asked us all to consider eating locally for a while now. The local idea is moving along, but one needs only to drive through town and see the cars at Applebees, McDonald’s, Outback, and the slew of non-local eateries and know it has a long way to go.

Perhaps more folk could enjoy local foods if they understand locally does not mean never eat non-local foods. Rather local eating is about honoring…

View original post 436 more words

Forgiveness – Prayerful Tuesday

kneeling prayer sketch croped

Matthew 18:21-22: 21 Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ 22Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

This week’s prayer practice comes from the lectionary readings.  In Matthew, Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive someone and Jesus’ response is an astronomical number. So how many times should we forgive? An infinite number of times.

I have often wondered what brought up that topic for Peter.  Did he have someone he needed to forgive, did one of the other disciples do something that irritated him, or might one of his family been causing him trouble?  I know those are some of the reasons I often need to offer forgiveness and to receive forgiveness.

Hurting someone’s feelings is simply part of being human and living in relationships.  We are not always pleasant to be around anymore than anyone else is and so unless we forgive each other of those hurt feelings we would be carrying a terrible burden that would eventually eat away at our souls.

Several years ago a man entered an Amish school house and killed all of the children before he shot himself. It would have been understandable for the families of those children to be angry and want revenge on the shooters family, but that is not what happened.  Instead they surrounded the widow and her children in love and cared for her and her children in her grief the way they cared for their own grief.  A spokesperson for the Amish community said the best way to remember the lives of the children lost was to offer forgiveness and compassion to the shooters wife and child and if the shooter had survived they would have told him they forgave him. I have known Amish families and I wasn’t surprised by their actions but still it must have been very hard to offer that kind of loving forgiveness.  You see I have carried around some anger for a long time for something someone did to my mother and I need to let forgive the person.  It is time to simply release that anger and offer my forgiveness.  In his book Spiritual Gems of Islam[1] Imam Jamal Rahman offers a meditation practice that guides us in releasing our anger and offering forgiveness even when the person is no longer with us by reaching out to the soul of the person to be forgiven.  Briefly here are the steps to follow:

  1. Begin in a state of meditation or stillness, let yourself feel safe and loved When you are ready call to the soul the person you wish to address
  2. Give yourself permission to experience your feelings this person evokes in you. Notice in your body where those feelings are located.  Feel compassion and mercy for yourself and slowly embrace those feelings
  3. When you are ready allow the feelings of mercy and compassion as a bridge to the persons soul and tell why you are forgiving them.
  4. Offer a prayer in the presence of the person’s soul that expresses your needs in relation to the person. State your heartfelt desire in prayer. End the prayer with whatever is in your highest interest, is manifesting for you now.
  5. As you continue to meditate tell the person’s soul that they have been part of your life but that it is now time to let them go, with love and forgiveness. Jamal recommends a ritual of cutting cords to release your attachment to the person.
  6. Listen for the soul of the other person expressing gratitude for this work of healing. Offer to release the person’s soul and envision his/her soul being embraced by the Holy Spirit.
  7. As you end of your meditation, give yourself permission to be loved by the Spirit and slowly return to awareness.

The above is a brief introduction to the prayer practice but it follows all of the steps.  However, if you are interested in furthering your understanding of this beautiful Sufi meditation I strongly recommend reading Imam Rahman’s book.

Peace to you all, and May your heart open like a flower in forgiving love for the unlovable and the lovable alike.

Ruth Jewell, ©September 9, 2014

[1] Rahman, Imam Jamal, Spirituality of Islam,  Skylight Paths Publishing, Woodstock, VT, 2013, pgs. 148-150.

All Will Be Well – Prayerful Tuesday

 

Earth taken by Juno satellite, Nasa
Earth taken by Juno satellite, Nasa

For the last couple of days I have been using a prayer book of a collection of Julian of Norwich’s writings as my meditation focus and I would like to share this morning’s prayer with you.

Now our Lord reminded me
of the desire for him I had earlier.
I saw that nothing stood in my way but sin,
and I realized that this is the same for all of us.
And I thought that if there were no sin,
we would all be pure and akin to our Lord
Just as we had been created sinless.
But in my vision, Jesus informed me
of everything necessary for me to know.
And he told me: Sin is necessary,
but everything will turn out for the good,
and all will be well,
and everything will be well.
by the simple word, ”sin”
God reminded me of all that is not good
and of the suffering and grief of all creation,
and above all of the utter shame and sacrifice
he endured for our salvation.
We have all suffered woe and sorrow
as we follow our master Jesus,
and we shall do so until we are utterly purified,
I did not see sin itself,
for it has no real substance,
it is not real:
it can be known only by the suffering it causes,
and even that pain lasts but a while.
And during the woe
we might take consolation in our Lord’s suffering.
And out of his tender love, he consoles us, saying:
True, sin caused this pain, but all will be well.
In his voice I never hear a hint of blame,
and since we who are guilty are not blamed,
why should we in turn blame God?

Julian of Norwich

All will be well, that is a powerful statement of faith, of trust in G-d to always be there.  Sometimes it is hard for me to hold onto those words.  Sometimes they don’t seem true especially in these days when violence and disasters dominate our world.  But Julian of Norwich says “but everything will turn out for the good, and all will be well, and everything will be well” and somehow in this morning’s meditation I find the space to believe that and to trust G-d knows what she is doing.

For this week’s spiritual practice to consider the sins of the world war, pollution, global warming and to hold the victims in your heart and offer prayers for their well being.  As you sit with your prayers listen for a call to work in some way to right an injustice you see this week.

“All will be well”

Ruth Jewell, ©September 2, 2014