When you come into rhythm you come into a different sense of time” John O’Donohue – Beauty the Invisible Embrace
This quote came to mind as I reflected on the beautiful photo that Lilly Lewin sent me from Iona a couple of days ago. This labyrinth is located at Columba’s Bay where St Columba and his followers are thought to have landed in 563. In some ways this is a timeless place, definitely a thin space, that still bears the footprints and invites us to walk to the same rhythms as this great man. It is now a special pilgrimage destination for many who visit Iona. The labyrinth is a fairly recent addition, but it still beckons us to a pathway of slow walking and reflection. Like all labyrinths, it teaches us the rhythm of a different sense of time.
We often walk without thinking about our steps, but here at Columba’s Bay and even more so as we walk a labyrinth, we are aware of every step that we take. When we walk a labyrinth, we settle into the rhythm of walking one step at a time. There are no wrong turns. Yes the path twists back on itself, but if we trust where our next step will take us, the pathway leads unerringly to the centre, a spacious place to pause, pray and reflect before beginning the journey back again and out into the world. If we look too far ahead or take our eyes off the path we get confused and might stumble and fall.
Walking is the fastest pace for noticing I once read, and this is certainly true of a labyrinth walk. We notice every step, the stones or plants that line it, the pebbles or grass under our feet. Even the thoughts that lodge in our minds are something to be noticed, savoured and reflected on.
A labyrinth walk – this slow rhythm of one step at a time – can make us feel as though time is suspended. We walk in slow motion, each step bringing us an awareness of what exists now, in this present moment. It is here that we learn lessons of trust, attentiveness, awareness of the inner presence of God as well as the wonder of the Eternal One whose mysterious essence fills all matter. Here we release our need for control, our craving for certainty and our fear of failure.
I couldn’t do a labyrinth walk on Iona this week, but I did pull out one of my finger labyrinths and a stone I picked up at Columba’s Bay several years ago. I walked the labyrinth at that slow noticing pace, rubbing the stone in my hand, and it did feel as though time was suspended. “Learning how to bring ritual into our lives helps us face whatever arrives at our door” (The Geography of Sorrow – Francis Weller on Navigating Our Losses – by Tim McKee) and this short ritual bringing together the rhythm of slow movement, remembering and attentiveness I feel is doing just that for me.
Take time this week to walk a labyrinth or perform a short, slow moving ritual, noticing ritual that helps prepare you for whatever you might face this week.
Join Christine Sine and special guest Elaine Breckenridge on Wednesday, May 18th at 9 am PT for a discussion on Restoring Rhythms and Seasons. Live on Facebook in the Godspace Light Community Group. Can’t join us live? Catch it later on youtube!