This year I celebrated my birthday with a three-day weekend dedicated to prayer, meditation and reflection. Only instead of sequestering myself indoors, I tried to stay outside as much as possible.
A highlight of the weekend was a trip to Jubilee Farm, where my husband Pete and I walked their labyrinth for the first time.
Jubilee Farm was established in 1999 by the Dominican Sisters as a center for ecology and spirituality, according to their web site (link HERE).
The labyrinth – one of the farm’s more amazing and popular features – allows us to follow a defined pathway to the center of the circle and back out again, praying and meditating as we go.
Many labyrinths are located in churches or other buildings, but the one at Jubilee Farm is outside.
For more than three millennia, millions of people have used labyrinths as an aid for prayer, according to the Jublilee Farm web site (link HERE for an article about the labyrinth itself).
One of the most famous labyrinths – and the one replicated at Jubilee Farm – is embedded in the stone floor of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Chartres, France.
At the entrance to (or exit from) the Jubilee Farm labyrinth is a bench where we can sit for a moment to gather our thoughts.
The labyrinth is a single circular path which takes us to a center place and back out again,
At Jubilee Farm, the labyrinth path is mowed right into the pasture grass, as pictured above and below.
There are no wrong turns or dead ends in a labyrinth, the Dominican Sisters assure us. There is one way in and one way out.
There is also no right or wrong way to pray while walking the labyrinth, a Sister who lives at the farm assured us the first time we visited Jubilee Farm in the spring.
We can pray for people or situations that are on our mind. We can ask a question and leave space for the Holy Spirit to respond. We can give thanks for the blessings in our lives.
Or we can walk in silence, observing the scenery around us and drinking in God’s presence.
All along the path at Jubilee Farm’s labyrinth, Pete and I encountered an abundance of milkweed, red clover and wildflowers.
We also encountered this little guy, who reminds us God wants us to pay attention! Is he magnificent or what?!
Finally we came to the center of the labyrinth, which had a couple of stumps where we could once again sit for rest or contemplation if we wished.
Walking to and from the labyrinth was an experience in itself. On the way back to our car, we walked past this pretty little pond.
Below is a close-up of the water lilies and lily pads in the middle of the pond.
Millions of people around the world use labyrinths as a spiritual practice.
At Jubilee Farm, walking their labyrinth turned out to be nature prayer at its finest! And a great way to start my personal new year.