Some people do a spiritual practice called walking the labyrinth. My version of this spiritual practice is folding the labyrinth.
A facilitator’s role in spiritual formation programs at Columbia Theological Seminary is not as a presenter but as a maker of everything from coffee to morning and evening prayers—as well as unfolding and folding the fabric labyrinth.
The spiritual formation program is my “local church,” where I encounter fellow believers in search of spiritual understanding and practices, all those things I have wanted to share with congregations and participants in retreats and workshops.
I am not one who “gets” walking the labyrinth, however. But at the end of a recent class I realized I really “get” folding it.
I know that spirituality is to be experienced in community, but when I have tried to fold the labyrinth with another, I find conflict and distraction. “No, I think it should go this way.” “Shouldn’t we read the directions again?”
I prefer to follow the folds in the fabric. I read the directions long ago, but I find the easiest and surest way to fold the labyrinth is by letting its creases guide me.
Virtually everything else I do as a facilitator is done with others, from reading assigned texts in preparation, working with a presenter’s theme and imagining attendees’ responses to and participation in the morning and evening prayers, ensuring the availability of coffee, tea, water, meals, and snacks as the class proceeds, enjoying presentations and conversations with participants.
But folding the labyrinth I prefer to do alone. After all, walking the labyrinth is also done in solitude. While attendees are meeting in their small groups for the last time, I fold and reflect in silence. Though the outcome is always the same, I take satisfaction when the wrinkles are smoothed out and the labyrinth is folded into a shape compact enough to fit in its box.
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