Sunday, August 10, 2008
For those who couldn't be with us this morning in person, here is today's homily.
Today's Scripture is taken from: Matthew 14: 22-32
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.23After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. 27But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." 28"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." 29"Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" 31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" 32And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.
This is an amazing story of how faith can make such a difference in making miracles happen. It also reminds us that fear and doubt can cancel a miracle. It speaks of how and when we ask for help, we are lifted up and saved from drowning in the physical world. Contemplate this scripture and see how it lifts you up.
What is a labyrinth? What in the world is God's Labyrinth? What does it mean to us? What good is it? Where will it take us? These are some of the questions that come to mind. What are yours?
You may feel like everything is spinning you in circles: For example, you think you have planned for retirement adequately, then the price of food and other products we use and buy from the food stores goes up 400% or more. You have to rethink retirement including income and expenses.
Or maybe you bought a boat or motor home, intending to spend quality time in the outdoors and then the price of fuel goes out of sight. Or maybe you bought a new home at a low mortgage rate, then it went up and you couldn't make the payments. Or maybe you built a new home, but because of the mortgage crisis, you can't sell your old one.
These kinds of things can knock you off balance and take away your peace.
It is said, "man plans and God laughs". He must be laughing a lot lately.
Has God created a maze with a lot of dead ends? No he hasn't. These issues are of man's making, not God's.
What are we to do? Being a Spiritual person, you will pray.
One form of prayer is meditation and what better way than taking a walk, as the song says, "He walks with me and talks with me". Here is where the labyrinth comes in.
The labyrinth is not a maze. It has one path that circles to the center and then circles back out. It is a symbolic pilgrimage, a journey to the Divine. It becomes a mirror for where we are in our lives. It touches the sorrows and releases our joys. Walk it with an open heart and mind.
We are told that there are three (3) stages of the walk: first, as you enter, Purgation - release and let go of the details of your life, the cares and concerns that keep you distracted and stressed. Second, as you reach the center, Illumination comes. Stay as long as you like. This is a place for clarity and insight. Receive what the Divine has for you. The third stage is Union - as you begin the path outward. Bring back to the world a renewed vision and refreshed spirit.
The renewed vision is a big WOW. Seeing the big picture can help us to regain our perspective. This can bring us calm and peace when we know where we are. Have faith and not fear, call to Christ and he will lift you up.
What can happen while in the center? It can center and align you with the Divine. Open to the increase of Divine energy into your being. Connect to the Source of all energy. By having let go of your cares and concerns, you can create the gap to be filled with Divine. The gap creates space for change to happen, the change of Illumination. Allow God's love fill you and bring you that 'Illumination'. Open to God's abundance and be renewed.
What can come out of this journey? The awesome power of 'Wisdom'. I like Wikipedia's definition of wisdom: "Wisdom is having gained knowledge, understanding, experience, discretion and intuitive understanding, along with a capacity to apply these qualities well". Wisdom is a quality of the Divine.
Wikipedia also says that "in Eastern Orthodoxy, wisdom is understood as the Divine Logos who became incarnate as Jesus Christ". I bet you didn't expect to find Christ as part of this journey, did you?
When we let go of our sorrows and the details, God can work with us and empower us with wisdom.
I have a friend who would work her heart out while debugging computer problems until she hit a wall. Then she would get up and go for a walk. She used these principles: letting go of the problem, regaining her center and perspective. When she returned, she was refreshed and almost always broke through the wall that had blocked her. She brought the insight and wisdom back with her and applied them to her work.
Why did I call this God's Labyrinth? Isn't our life a journey back to God? Yes. Do we go around in circles? Yes, we do. Do we find wisdom and bring Christ into our heart? Yes. Isn't God the creator of all? Yes. Makes sense to me.
Where do we find these labyrinths? My first labyrinth walk was on Sparrow Hawk Mountain, then Bon Secours in Marriottsville, then one in a field near Hendersonville. The last journey was in Chartres. There is also one nearby at Maryland Hall. Look around the area and you may find one to try.
You don't have to go to one of these. You can make a circuit out of a walk in the Forest. Take a map of the area and make it into a labyrinth walk.
Know that God's labyrinth is part of the Divine plan that you are a part of. Let go as you walk. Open to the illumination as you get to the center. Bring back union (oneness), peace, wisdom, renewed vision, insight and refreshed spirit. Take them from within you and share them with others.
May you find Christ walking and talking with you always. Give the labyrinth a go.
God bless you.