Luke 10:38-42 – Labyrinths


labyrinth1 001

An Activity

To make a labyrinth, you will need a long rope, such as a cotton clothes-line, and a large room. Alternatively, 3m of fine chain and a flat surface to make a table labyrinth.

There is a video of these instructions [here] and a reflective video about Christian Calling and Vocation that uses a labyrinth, [here].

baltic1Measure out about 2 m from one end of the rope. (For a table labyrinth, about 20cm from the end.) This will make the short route from the centre out of the labyrinth.

Place the end of the rope where you want the entrance/exit to the labyrinth to be and place a small stool, a picture or cross at the centre, or a candle for a table -sized labyrinth.

The chain or rope forms the path to follow, not the hedges between the the path.

baltic2Use the rest of the rope to make a winding trail that loops back and forth above and on both sides of the main stem.

Make sure that the lines never cross and stay at least 30cm apart. Do not take the rope below the end of the rope, as this would block the entrance.

Remember, you are laying out the path to follow, not the walls between the paths.

baltic3When you have nearly finished, bring the remaining rope to the main stalk and run the two ropes alongside each other for a while so that the ends finish level. This is the entrance/exit.

If you don’t have room for a full-sized labyrinth, try finger-walking a paper version. You can print out a [labyrinth PDF here]. If you like, you can colour it as a meditation. Or you could even [knit this lap-sized one] to use as a prayer-help.

Use a stone, ring or some other small symbol to mark your place, or trace the path slowly with your finger. The longer path is to the right. Pause at each turn. Take a couple of deep breaths to slow down your journey and look at your journey with God.

When you reach the centre, rest a while, then leave by the opposite path and return to the outside.

A Reflection

I like Martha and Mary. I ever I open a Christian book/craft/tea shop I’ll call it Martha and Mary’s – a place for doing and a place for being.

That’s what our story is about today – doing and being. Martha was all about doing doing, and she didn’t understand Mary doing being instead. I totally get that. I’m just like Martha, always busy, always hurtling round at 100 miles per hour. If I’m doing only two things at once I feel unproductive. Even writing this is part of my busyness.

Silly me. I am learning, slowly, that being is the ‘better part’, the ‘one thing worth being concerned about’ as The Living Bible puts it. I am learning to stop (occasionally) and waste time. It irks. It really does. But I’m learning.

I’ll never be a mystic, meditating for hours. That’s not how God made me. He made me a power-pack of dynamism and ideas, and I think  it’s important to work to one’s strengths. (Don’t give the guitarist a trombone.)

However, it’s also useful to try exploring one’s less-developed sides. In my case, stopping trying to accomplish everything all in one go – let other people do (and fail if necessary), leave things undone (no problem if that is cleaning the kitchen!), stop setting unnecessary targets and accept that I might occasionally be less than perfect at something. (Actually, I’m quite aware of that last one in many realms, but in some areas I still hanker after finding my self-worth in excelling – silly me again.)

This reminded me of a type of labyrinth. A labyrinth is not the same as a maze. Mazes have wrong paths and blind alleys. They are designed to fool you. Labyrinths only have one path and no junctions. The path will twist and wind, but will always, always lead to the centre. I like to walk labyrinths as a way of thinking and praying. They are very good for me – a waste of time, a very long way to get nowhere fast. I need more labyrinths.

The Baltic labyrinth above is slightly different. It has a junction. Just one, near the start. One way takes you round the winding path and eventually to the centre. There you can sit a while and then leave via the second path, directly back to the start. Of course, you could take the direct route on your way in and go straight to the centre without walking the long meanders. One route reminds me of Martha and one of Mary.

Martha was focussed on the goal, the destination, the getting to where she needed to be. She took the direct path. Of course she did, how sensible. Why waste time going back and forth and round in spirals?

Mary was focussed on the process, the journey, the who she was going with, not the where she was going. She walked the labyrinth.

Our Response

Am I Martha or Mary? Am I focussed on doing or being? Perhaps a bit of both.

Jesus did not condemn Martha for all her doing, but gently invited her to ‘be’ as well. Let us hear that invitation too.

A Prayer

Lord Jesus,

Thank you that my life is busy and full of things.
Thank you that between and within the jangle of busyness
speaks your still, small voice.

Help me to learn to listen,
to sit,
and breathe,
and be


Bible Text

Luke 10:38-42 Living Bible

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem they came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home. Her sister Mary sat on the floor, listening to Jesus as he talked.

But Martha was the jittery type and was worrying over the big dinner she was preparing.

She came to Jesus and said, “Sir, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

But the Lord said to her, “Martha, dear friend, you are so upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it—and I won’t take it away from her!”

 Living Bible (TLB)

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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