In 2011 a Jesuit priest at the Seven Fountains Retreat Centre in Chiang Mai, Thailand wrote. He asked for permission to offer Labyrinth Prayer: An Ancient Yet “New” Way To Pray* to those who came on retreat. I was delighted–that the resource could be of service, and that there was a labyrinth not too far from where we worked in Myanmar. A dream was born–someday I hoped to pray this labyrinth in Chiang Mai.
When preparing for a time of ministry in Thailand, I looked up the Seven Fountains labyrinth on the Worldwide labyrinth locator and linked to the centre’s page on it. Father Saichon answered an inquiry email, inviting me to come to walk. As requested, I checked in with the secretary, and then found the labyrinth. It’s 516 meter-long (1693 feet-long) pathway took my breath away!
Being immediately drawn in, a sense of being held came not only from walking on paths lined with knee-high shrubs but also from the mid-winter canopy that offered dappled light and refreshing shade. As small, dead leaves floated down, the reminder to let go of what was no longer needed came gently.
The rock that had been lovingly placed in the center draws attention no matter where one is on the path. Its presence created a longing for the center that was strong and persistent. The beloved and comforting words of Psalm 18:2 were my companions, “God is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
Praying this Chartres-style labyrinth reminded me of the connections that exist all across the globe. The day before I had arrived from Chartres, France, where I had walked the cathedral labyrinth with the same pattern with French retreatants.
Circling the center, Paslm19:14 came to heart. I prayed the words on behalf of our team (shown here) and those we would be living with and teaching in a Burmese Karen compound for immigrants and refugees in the south of Thailand, “Let the words of [our] mouth[s] and the meditation of [our] heart[s] be acceptable to you, O God, [our] rock and [our] redeemer.”
As I reached the center, I gave thanks for this sacred container where I could be found by God, my rock, and where I could connect with My Rock.
Praying for the people of Burma I offered a lament using Psalms 42:9, “I say to God, my rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?’”
Walking back, my prayers continued, shaped by the environment around me, the memorized words of Scripture within me, and my longings for peace and justice to manifest amidst the horrors of life that so many around the globe experience daily.
I crossed the threshold feeling grateful for those who had created this labyrinth and shared it with me. That labyrinths allow us to connect with the heart of God and the suffering of those around us is but one of their many gifts. Thankfulness abounds.
*This seven-page paper is available under the Christian Prayer tab and is entitled Labyrinth Prayer.
To find labyrinth information related to local labyrinths in Thailand (or close to you) use the World-wide Labyrinth Locator.
Thank you, Jill, for sharing.
Hello Jill, This is so beautiful…the labyrinth and your meditation on the experience. Thank you for sharing it. I miss and love you, Linda