The Labyrinth // Positively Speaking // Mark Wilson

Last Friday, I traveled to the Servite Convent in Ladysmith, to walk their prayer labyrinth.

I had heard about prayer labyrinths before, but never had the opportunity to walk one. Thus, I decided, after discovering one just an hour from my home, to visit it.

Driving there, I eagerly anticipated my prayer journey. The clangings and clutters of life had been too loud lately. I needed to still my soul in quietness.

The labyrinth was not nearly as impressive as I had imagined–from a distance I could barely discern the boundaries–and it looked more like an unkempt backyard than a sacred shrine for prayer and meditation.

Nevertheless, I entered the labyrinth expectantly — silencing my heart and waiting to hear the voice of God.

I heard something different.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, my contemplative state was interrupted by a hideous intrusion.

“VROOM! VROOM! THWAT, THWAT, THWAT, THWAT!”

Some young punk picked that particular minute to do weed whacking at the convent. Strapped in a giant and loud ghostbuster machine, and goggles donned, he looked like a creature from a sci-fi flick.

I glared at him, hoping that would make him disappear. Undeterred, he kept whacking away.

So, trying to make the most of an unpleasant situation, I resumed my prayer journey:
peace, faith, love, tranquility, GRRRR, dumb gardener, go away,
peace, faith, love, tranquility. Good grief, you moron, can’t you see I’m praying??

And then it hit me. The bothersome gardener was a part of God’s design. I needed to realize and admit the Jekyll and Hyde in me — prayer and anger mixing in my soul like oil and water: sloshing, foaming, but never coming to agreement. My turmoil spoke more about the state of my soul than the inconsiderate yard worker.

Turning a labyrinthian corner, I finally let it go. Harboring this frustration would not benefit me one bit. I clenched my fists tight, put all my anger in them, breathed a prayer, and then slowly opened my fingers, releasing the burden to God.

Lo and behold: a fresh outpouring of peace, faith, love and tranquility! (Without the Grrr!)

The machine was still Vrooming — but I wasn’t. I walked away from my prayer experience deepened, refreshed and ready to face the clangings and clutters at home.

The noises and annoyances of everyday life are not enemies of contemplation. They can all be turned to prayer partners.

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