Week 3 – Lenten Labyrinth Journey

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If you look back at last week’s labyrinth and compare it to this week’s, you’ll see what I saw: this week’s is a lot less active than last week’s.

And that’s okay.

Every week, every day is different, and while sometimes we are overwhelmed with activity, other times we are Baby Bear levels of just right (thanks Felicia Day for that description), and often we won’t know how we feel about each until the week is over. That was one reason that I chose to share the previous week’s labyrinth, after the week was over, and I had a couple of days to reflect and process how things went. This is titled Week 3, but I am living in the middle of Week 4.

This has given me a chance to look back and reassess. Am I reading enough? What am I praying for and should I pray more? Should I add people to my prayer list? I began grouping on Monday and this will continue indefinitely twice a month. I was confronted with taking action, and realized that I really do need a little intentional time; time to intentionally spend with G-d, in prayer, in meditation, contemplation, and discernment. That sounds like a lot of work! It can be, but it can also be a time to rest in the spirit, and see things from different angles and perspectives. Rest in the Word and in words.

How is your third and half-fourth weeks of Lent progressing? Are you feeling your way through the desert?

I’ve added another downloadable sheet to the home page. This is the coloring sheet I designed for Gish‘s Book Bash in reference to Florida’s discriminatory law not allowing schools – children and faculty – to say gay. I don’t understand a society that is afraid of a little word. Anyway, it IS okay to say gay, and more importantly, it IS OKAY to BE GAY (or any of the other LGBTQIA orientations and genders).


Lenten Labyrinth. Week 3.
(c)2022

Through the Labyrinth: Lent, Week 2

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Last week was kind of extraordinary. I am making great effort to attend Mass on Sundays on Facebook regularly, religiously if you will. There is a routine of the mass structure at our parish, and I’m sure it parallels many parishes: Music, Announcements, Prayer for the Deceased, Stand, Processional, Mass begins.

When there is a change to this, I can tell simply by who is milling about near the altar during the first musical portion. On this second Sunday of Lent, I saw our parish trustees. I felt tense. I felt anxiety creeping in and when they approached the ambo and stated that they’d be reading a letter from the Bishop, it did not help my tension and anxiety.

As I’ve mentioned previously (probably too many for some), my parish priest died suddenly in October and we’ve been waiting to hear about a new priestly appointment. This was that announcement. I held my breath, not that I have any control over the choice or know many of the priests very well, but still, I waited with literal bated breath.

It turns out that I do know this priest who will soon become my new priest. I actually cried. I was happy (and am) that he will be joining our parish. I’m feeling excited as I write this, nervous but not apprehensive and I think the announcement was the catalyst that set my week on the right path, although it was a very busy week planned (as is this one).

You will see from the labyrinth photos that I ran out of room and needed TWO more extensions. Unbelievable. The one negative was the my writing retreat scheduled for next week was cancelled, but again, I can muddle through and self-direct my own writing retreat while simultaneously doing a writing/reading scavenger hunt.

I had several close moments where I felt G-d’s presence palpably, I listened and learned, I wrote and I drew and I kept up with my readings. The week was overflowing with grace and spirit.

Looking back on last week, I am also looking forward to this busy week. Celebrated my son’s twenty-fifth birthday last night and today I am Zooming all day.

I feel good.

Lenten Labyrinth, Week 2.
Part 1.
(c)2022
Lenten Labyrinth, Week 2.
Part 2. (Plus book list)
(c)2022

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

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In honor of our common Irish heritage (today anyway), I thought I’d post some original art as well as photos from our very short visit to Dublin, Ireland a few years ago. The photo of the Celtic cross is from the historic landmark at Cranfield Church in Randalstown in Northern Ireland. I would note that we could not get into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin because you needed tickets which we did not have. That did not stop us from strolling the adjacent park and enjoying the blue sky and sunshine.

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A Lenten Labyrinth

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Lent is right around the cor – hmm…I guess it’s here.

I’m not ready. My prayer life is struggling, and the idea that I need to make a forty day plan for myself is giving me hives. It’s daunting. Between new bouts of covid isolation keeping me from in person masses and spiritual gatherings and my continuing struggles to come to terms with the sudden death of my priest this past fall, I have been having difficulties in focusing on my prayer life. I read constantly. I finally resumed listening to podcasts this morning while I was setting up my medication. My daughter has a doctor’s appointment tomorrow so my plans for 9am Mass to receive my ashes will need to be adjusted. I made three phone calls yesterday and mailed a letter. I’m not sure what this has to do with Lent or prayer or anything other than keeping the chronic depression at bay.

I’m still at ‘what do I give up‘ part of the process and I just don’t know. With mask mandates ending and war in Ukraine, the giving up decision of my Lent feels superficial and not at all relevant.

Should I stop drinking soda? Watching TV? Starbucks? Giving up the internet for a couple of hours a day? (Heaven forfend!) Cheese? Chocolate? Cigarettes? Alright, that one would be cheating; I don’t smoke. Can I give up being judgmental for forty days? I’m not sure I can manage forty minutes.

What is a worthy of sacrifice that doesn’t strike me as trite or worn out?

However, there are some things that I have worked out: a weekly Scripture series through March, a weekend retreat, reading, and art journaling with the use of a Lenten Labyrinth (pictured below).

Beginning tomorrow, I will read Learning to Pray by Father James Martin, and Life is Messy by Matthew Kelly and a daily devotional: Daily Reflections for Lent: Not by Bread Alone 2022 by Amy Ekah and Thomas Stegman. I’m sure there will be more reading as the days go by, but these three are on my goals list.

I will pray the rosary at least weekly.

I will make one pilgrimage, although I’m not sure to where yet.

I will work diligently on my Labyrinth Prayer Book.

I will attend Sunday Mass on Facebook and commit to attending one daily mass in person during the week.

I will keep up with my labyrinth in the art journal. It is similar to the spiral journals I shared a few years ago after my trip to Wales. I plan on looking at it daily and trying to draw or write something relevant. I have enough copies for a new labyrinth each week.

I also have included a downloadable clean copy on my home page for anyone interested in journaling through Lent. (Sorry about some of the crooked lines.)

(c)2022

I think the most important thing I can impart to readers and to myself is to be easy on ourselves. Focus on the three Lenten principles: prayer, fasting, almsgiving.

Native American Heritage Month

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I want to acknowledge that my family and I live on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee. I grew up knowing them as the Iroquois, which is the French name. Haudenosaunee means People of the Longhouse and they have a rich history in New York State. The map below shows the other tribes traditional to New York. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy is the oldest, participatory Democracy and our US Constitution is said to be modeled on theirs.

Credit: Aaron Carapella (c)2021

Some links to check out about Native American Heritage Month:

Beyond Each November from First Nations

Native American Heritage Month Information and Activities


I’ve mentioned my affinity for our local saint, Saint Kateri Tekawitha (pronounced “gaderi dega-gwita”). She is the first Native American saint to be canonized. Her official elevation was in 2012 and her most recent miracle was in 2006. St. Kateri was Algonquin on her mother’s side and Mohawk on her father’s.

Since I was going to visit her shrine in Quebec, I wanted to have her chaplet to pray with while I was there. I wasn’t able to acquire it until after so I drew one and used that for my prayer. Here is a photo of both of them:

Chaplet of St. Kateri Tekawitha.
(c)2021

Our Lady of the Rosary

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Today is the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Rosary. It is commemorated each year on October 7th and many churches have special rosary events. Many of these happen all through the year but they have a special significance during October and May.

I personally find great comfort in praying the rosary. I participate in a weekly recitation every Monday with my Cursillo group and I’ve been part of a Living Rosary at my church for a few years now. They’re starting it again post-pandemic this month.

Since today is Thursday, the mysteries of the Holy Rosary recited are the LUMINOUS MYSTERIES.

1. The Baptism of the Lord

2. The Wedding at Cana

3. Proclamation of the Kingdom

4. The Transfiguration

5. Institution of the Eucharist

Visit How to Pray the Rosary on the Vatican’s website for prayers and directions if you’re not familiar with praying the rosary.

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Inspire. Surprise.

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The only thing that should surprise us is that there are still some things that can surprise us.

Francois de La Rochefoucauld

The kids will be out of school soon. Things are winding down just as the world is winding back up. People are talking about the return of Broadway, In The Heights is in theatres, and I’m considering going…TO…A…THEATRE. (Practice for Black Widow, which I’ve been informed we WILL see in theatres in a few weeks.) Vacations are being planned, and we may actually see our cousins for Thanksgiving.

With all that taken into consideration, I decided to give myself a morning. Take a short drive and visit one of our local labyrinths. The temperature was a perfect seventy-six degrees.

The labyrinth itself is nestled in a quiet park on a quiet street in a sleepy Victorian former Methodist camp village. The roads are narrow and people drive a little too fast going from one end of town to the other. There is small parking area and the park is a field of grass with several trees that houses the birds and squirrels. It’s very Disney Princess-y.

My plan was to walk the labyrinth, pray parts of it, and sit on one of the benches for a few minutes in the quiet; give myself a little time and space before the summer heat makes that less possible.

When I arrived I could see from a distance that something was slightly different. Some of the rocks that form the labyrinth looked odd, larger, shinier; they really stood out from a distance. The closer I got, the more my eyes widened with surprise at what I found. Much of the labyrinth’s rocks had been replaced, repositioned, new soil beneath them, and some of the rocks making the path had been painted with a variety of things – a Scripture verse, a saying, a bumper sticker sounding Love Wins, all matter of animals and insects, Celtic knots, flowers, and symbols. One rock even had a photograph of two men attached to it. There was a pinwheel and new, bursting with color potted plants.

I walked through, marveling at the changes, at the brightness of the painted rocks, and I took several pictures. Once I reached the center of the labyrinth, I stepped out and spent ten minutes on the bench facing the labyrinth (even though my eyes were closed most of the time) letting myself attempt centering prayer with rocks for my mind’s focus.

There were still a few more left to rejuvenate and I look forward to returning in a couple of weeks to find what other surprises are in store.


The Labyrinth that is Full of Surprises. One.
(c)2021
The Labyrinth that is Full of Surprises. Two.
(c)2021
The Labyrinth that is Full of Surprises. Three.
(c)2021

Happy Feast Day of St. Elen

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St. Elen is my personal saint and patron. I’ve written about her on a pretty regular basis, so I’ll toss in a few links below to learn more.

In 2017, I was able to pilgrimage to one of her holy wells in Wales, this one in the town of Dolwyddelan. The picture I’m sharing will be one side of a prayer card I’m creating. I haven’t gotten the prayer finished yet, but I didn’t want to let today pass without acknowledgement.

St. Elen’s Well, Dolwyddelan, North Wales.
(c)2021

Ffynnon Elen, Dolwyddelan – This was the article from Wellhopper where I discovered the existence of this well. I’m indebted to the writer for the information that allowed me to pilgrimage there.

Elen of the Hosts – one of the first pieces I wrote on this site.

Praying the Stations of the Cross

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I committed to praying the Stations of the Cross every Friday. during Lent I have a few different ones that I’ve found and wanted to share today’s with you.

This was originally presented last year, early in the pandemic and parts of the talk reflect that. It is my friend Brother Mickey, and in the video he shares three different versions of the Stations.

The first version is the art from his book, A Light for My Path: Praying the Psalms on the Way to the Cross.

The second version is based on his trip to Kenya, and the third is a set of stained glass windows in a Vienna, Virginia church. There are also other pieces of art that he relates to the Stations.

Between each station, there is a momentary prayer that can be prayed along with him:

LORD, BY YOUR CROSS
AND RESURRECTION,
YOU HAVE SET US FREE.....

YOU ARE THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD.

Presbyters

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Here we are in the first full week of Lent. I think we’re all getting used to the idea of what this year’s Lent entails. As I mentioned last week, I am trying to organize my thoughts around the Lenten pillars of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving and incorporating those pillars with the tripod of my way through Cursillo of piety, study, and action. Something the priest said at Monday’s mass stood out to me, and that was that we are all presbyters, as opposed to proselytizers. Public prayer, not conversion. That was the word [presbyter] used in that day’s Reading from the First Letter of Peter, and defined in Father’s homily as someone who prays in public. We may recognize that word as the basis for Presbyterian, a Protestant sect of Christianity.

If we are all called to be presbyters as Peter exalts us to “tend the flock of G-d in [our] midst” [1 Peter 5: 1-4], how do we reconcile that with Jesus’ call to not be like the hypocrites and go to our rooms and pray in private [Matt 6.6]?

How should, how can we pray in public and not become like those hypocrites?

As I set this aside earlier in the week, I thought about the ways in which I was praying in public and yet hoping to avoid hypocrisy. I am definitely thinking more about prayer and ways to be closer to G-d during these forty days leading up to the Easter Vigil. I spent time discerning what actions and tasks were important to me and which ones I needed to give up to make my time more effective and positive, not only for me, but for those people I would be working with.

Sometimes prayer is a conversation between yourself and G-d and sometimes it is contemplative, thinking on a scripture passage or meditation. We ask for things – petitions, we ask for things for others – intercessory prayer and sometimes we just sit in the quiet and hope G-d can understand what it is we’re seeking even if we don’t necessarily know.

On Wednesday night, I participated in a centering prayer group. We met on Zoom. I had been to a workshop on centering prayer last month, and this was a good opportunity to put what I learned into practice with others.
While we were each in our own spaces and muted, we were also all together, hearing the same reading, listening to the bell that started off our quiet, contemplative time, the screen sharing a single candle if we chose to keep our eyes open to see it. Solitary and in group at the same time.

Private and public.

Admittedly, I had some trouble focusing. My house was empty and silent. The group was silent, not even a buzz from the lights or clock in the room, no airplanes flying low overhead like they’d done all morning. And still, I needed to continue to draw on my sacred word to bring me back to my prayer. By the time, I felt settled, the bell rang and it was the end of the twenty minute sit (what the prayer time is called).

It reminded me of those early days of the pandemic, when the sun was out, the snow was gone, and the cold was bearable. I would take out my camp chair to the front lawn and just sit. On occasion I took a photo of the trees or the sky. I’d write in my journal. I’d pray the rosary.

But often, I would just sit, noticing each flutter of a breeze, each chirp of a bird, and before I even realized it, an hour had passed. I’d unconsciously been doing centering prayer a year ago, but didn’t have the language to name it then.

One way I can be a presbyter is to take my chair outside (when my lawn doesn’t have the mounds of snow that it currently has) with my prayer book and journal, my pashmina and just sit. Let myself be drawn into G-d’s world and let the nearby church bells lift me from my reverie and gently bring me back to this world refreshed.