(the following is used with permission from The Rev. Joan Dennehy. It was her main Column in the March, 2013 issue of the Findlay St. Christian Church, Seattle, WA, newsletter)
I am the vine, you are the branches. Those were the words of Jesus to ponder at the Discipling Class on a recent Saturday. For a branch to survive it has to remain attached to the vine — twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Jesus wants his followers to know that no matter where we are or what time it is, the Holy Spirit is with us.
These words left the page of our workbooks and became real for us in an unexpected way.
Five youth, six mentors, and myself arrived on a windy afternoon at Seattle Center to walk the eleven circuit labyrinth. We knew before we got there that this labyrinth was not created as sacred space. It was put on the black asphalt as public art. Yet, the picture on the website was lovely…the calm bright orange pathways beckoning.
What we couldn’t see was where it was exactly, tucked among the Experience Music Project, Center House and Space Needle. Music was blaring from loudspeakers above the labyrinth, the plaza filled with people of all ages and energy. The labyrinth itself had not been well tended, the paint chipped and faded. Large concrete Jersey barriers had been stored against a wall, one of them smack dab on the two outer rings of the labyrinth—an unwanted obstacle. This labyrinth was like a rug, with people moving over it in all manners to get where they were going. If anyone was actually walking it, they were making jokes and goofing off.
The twelve of us stood in a tight circle at the labyrinth’s entrance, disappointed…then suddenly challenged. Are we not by faith to walk in the spirit in the midst of exactly this? How do you stay grounded in spirit in a hectic world? One by one we entered…slowly, with intention. Less able to focus on personal needs or questions, we found ourselves praying for and blessing the people around us.
Once we were all moving in silence, something amazing happened. The mood of the plaza shifted. Others came to walk with us, following the paths carefully, children included. The joking vanished. The loud music ceased to distract. There was calm and stillness, connection and peace. Hearts were open. The Holy Spirit is real, palpable, wondrous! All the world is God’s sacred space! This turned out to be a lesson better than we could have planned.
(photos of this labyrinth can be seen at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/warrenlynn/seattle_center )