Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Day That Wasn't

"The day that wasn't", that's what my FI likes to call the first time he tried to propose to me, and I stood him up. In my defense, I didn't know!

Its a beautiful, sentimental story... almost. I work as a Campus Minister for the college that we both did our undergraduate work at. When we were students last Spring, he tried to propose to me on a Friday afternoon in March, but his beautiful plans were squashed by my flightiness, or rather a random appointment I scheduled with my academic adviser...

My FI was planning on incorporating one of my favorite prayer practices into our engagement, its also a very symbolic one, and one that I realized is perfectly suited for a marriage proposal. Its called a Labyrinth which is a meandering, but purposeful path that winds in toward the center, and then out again. Walking the Labyrinth is supposed to help quiet the mind and move the soul toward healing. "Its not a maze (there aren't any tricks or dead ends)".

The Labyrinth's pathway is located in the center of the Church under the altar. Here is a picture of our Labyrinth about 10 years ago when the Church was built, it looks way different now. (There are tapestries, and other artwork that have been added)

The experience is different for each person, but often times incorporates three different parts/processes.

Letting Go

The Labyrinth represents a "letting go" of all the daily concerns that frustrate or consume us. "It is releasing, emptying, quieting" of the soul. Its also a way of letting ourselves "drift out of conscious focus". For me this is crucial, I have a hard time doing this daily, I'm always go go go, and when I have a hard time doing this on my own, my FI challenges me to s l o w d o w n, and realize that so many of the things I worry about aren't as dramatic as I tend believe.


"Such a long winding path is so illogical. We do not know that we have arrived at the center until we actually arrive". This is true so many times of life. Often times its surprising (at least I know it is for me), but when we come with an open heart and quieted mind, we find the truest answer. With our relationship, it was kind of the same way... I didn't know that I was falling in love with him until I already had (so sappy, but so true).


This is typically the third part of the Labyrinth prayer experience. It is "a time of meditation and empowerment... and incorporating insights gained." At this point you have typically reached the physical center of the labyrinth, "... each (person) is invited, empowered, even pushed to be more authentic and take the risks needed to manifest our gifts for the world." How beautiful, right? I feel that this is not only true of an individual person's pathway, but that invitation to live more authentically, to take risks is crucial to relationships.

The Labyrinth is a feature not normally heard of in Church architecture and structure. The one at the church I work at is modeled after the one of the famous cathedrals, in Chartres (one of the most beautiful Gothic-style cathedrals in the world). And is identical to the Labyrinth inside the Riverside Church (also a gorgeous church) in New York.

(These two above are of the breathtaking Chartres Cathedral)

(These two are from Riverside, which is an interdenominational church in NY)

For the proposal, he had planned on waiting for me to come to the Church, there are certain days that are designated as "Labyrinth Days", where the play instrumental music, and people can come in and walk/pray the Labyrinth all day long, and wisely anticipating I would go there my FI waited for me to call to let him know I was going to go, so that he knew when to meet me for lunch afterwards. Instead of meeting me for lunch, he was going to go and stand in the center of the Labyrinth, while I walked (well, I would probably have run this time!) the winding path. But I stood him up. Bummer. Soon I'll post on the real proposal...

(The information for this post is courtesy of Veriditas, and if you want to learn more about the Labyrinth Prayer Experience I definitely recommend checking out their website.)

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