Praying for Peace: St. Alban’s Labyrinth

How Readers Around the World Are Praying for Ukraine is the name of an Opinion piece in the New York Times this morning. It made me want to ask every person I meet, “What are your prayers for peace?” The question led me as I walked into the labyrinth at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Austin.

Small pieces of polished glass that make up the path

Upon feeling and hearing the crunching of crushed glass under my feet, I examined the shifting path below. Each morsel of glass seemed to represent a single life shattered by war, oppression, torture, hunger, or another horror. In the midst of so much brokenness which nevertheless hasn’t lost the capacity to sparkle given the right circumstances, I paused to wonder anew, “What are my prayers for peace?”

6-circuit Medieval-style pattern: limestone dividers with re-cycled, ground glass walkways

What are your prayers for peace? Do they sound harmonious like the windchime next to this labyrinth? Or do they sound threatening like earth-movers that were clearing the landscape just yards from the labyrinth on the other side of the church property line? Or do they sound completely different?

Windchime hung from a Live Oak near the threshold

The areas indicating where to turn on the labyrinth are filled with medium-sized pieces of rough, colored glass. They made me wonder about the “bigger” prayers that communities use as they pray for peace—prayers from Psalms, the Lord’s Prayer, St. Francis’s prayer, “God, make me an instrument of your peace…” I imagined many groups all over the globe praying together for peace.

Dead leaves mixed into the chunks of glass filling limestone area indicating a turn in the path

Abba Macarius, one of the fourth-century Desert Fathers in Egypt, was asked, “How should one pray?” The old man said, “There is no need at all to make long discourses; it is enough to stretch one’s hands and say, ‘Lord, as you will, and as you know, have mercy.’ And if the conflict grows fiercer say, ‘Lord, help!’ [God] knows very well what we need and [God] shows us [God’s] mercy.” Macarius 19

The center of the center circle of the labyrinth: Texas limestone blocks set on a bed of small ground glass pieces and filled with larger ground glass chunks

Your prayers are needed. Pray with your mouth. Pray with your feet. Pray with your eyes. Pray with your hands. Pray with your community. Pray however you can best pray.

Heading back to the threshold from the center

Please, just pray for peace.

Sign greeting drivers as they leave the labyrinth and the church

More Information:

Address: 11819 IH 35 South Austin, Texas 78745 Parish Webpage on the Labyrinth
Phone: (512) 282-5631
GPS: 30.129075° Lat.; -97.797827° Long.
See the bottom of the page for St. Alban Church’s answer to “Why use a labyrinth?”

One of the many path dividers that was shaped like a symbol for peace
Austin, TX

Resources:

To find labyrinth information related to local labyrinths in Austin (or close to you) use the World Wide Labyrinth Locator, the Well-Fed Spirit Labyrinth Map of labyrinths in the United States, and the Austin Labyrinth Project (Google) Map.

Related Posts In The Austin Labyrinth Series:

From the St. Alban Episcopal Church’s page on their labyrinth:

Why Use the Labyrinth?
Jesus calls us to the discipline of prayer, but many people have a difficult time quieting their minds when they sit and pray or meditate. There is sometimes restlessness in the body, which seems to want to move. Walking the labyrinth involves the whole person. It is like a “body prayer.” There seems to be a natural quieting of the whole person as the labyrinth is walked. Walking on the path helps to keep us focused, something we need in this chaotic and distracting world. It brings mind, body, and spirit into harmony. Walking the labyrinth with other believers reinforces our sense of community – it helps us to see our lives from a perspective of wholeness and correctness. In that sense, it does much to strengthen Christ’s body, the Church.

3 thoughts on “Praying for Peace: St. Alban’s Labyrinth

  1. Pingback: Pondering: Post-Labyrinth Walk Questions | Through Jill's Eyes

  2. Pingback: Lenten Contemplation on Austin Labyrinths | Through Jill's Eyes

  3. Pingback: Labyrinth Learnings in Austin | Through Jill's Eyes

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