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February 24 - Labyrinths as a Metaphor for Cycles and Journeys

A labyrinth is a single path, winding to the center and back out again. It is not a maze. It can be a tool for meditation or a metaphor for our life journeys. The labyrinths found in churches were also a symbol for pilgrimage. When people were unable to travel to make a pilgrimage, they might walk the labyrinth as a symbolic act of pilgrimage.

The circles of the various labyrinth paths are what interest me most today.

I recently read a book of practices published by Emergence Magazine. One practice that stood out to me was “Arriving with Every Step" written by Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder. She offers a practice for being present to your journey. This could be a walk to a nearby park or a further expedition to see something new; in either case she encourages an approach to walking as if to a holy site. She writes, “A common pilgrimage practice is circumambulation: to move in a circle around something so that it becomes a sacred center, an axis Mundi.”

This feels similar to advice I heard in an interview recently. The speaker recommended approaching something new as a kind of courtship. They described this practice as a slow circling to get to know something from all sides but also from a respectful distance. This involves not only getting to know a subject but seeing it in relationships to materials, spaces, people, and practices. I find it helpful to remember this in this time of physical distancing. While I may be unable to pursue some of my goals directly, there are related paths and interests I might investigate.

Today, I invite you to explore spirals and labyrinths as a map for another way of getting to know something, a symbol for the journey of exploration and return. As Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder writes, “The journey is a practice, a prayer, a seeking. Arriving back home from a quest to a holy site is really only another beginning.”

Practice - Finger Labyrinths

Finger labyrinths are a great tool for meditation. You can print the image below or find a great variety of labyrinth designs on-line through a web search. This site offers several different labyrinth patterns for download.

I invite you to trace the labyrinth with your finger or to use it as a coloring page. For the image below you could color the rocks of the labyrinth as well as choosing colors for the path.

Walking a labyrinth is a beautiful form of meditation; churches, parks and schools often feature labyrinths on their grounds. You can use the world labyrinth locator to find one near you.

Inspiration from Kathy Swaar: Fine Lines: Walking the Labyrinth of Grief and Loss

This month I have the honor of being a small part of a beautiful new book written by my friend Kathy Swaar; I created the labyrinth block print on the cover.

As a nation we marked the loss of half a million Americans on Monday. Whether you are mourning a specific person, accompanying someone who is grieving or feeling the collective of loss of life, this book offers wisdom, prayers and guidance.

Each chapter centers on a fine line between seeming opposites such as “the fine line between faith and doubt.” Each pair of fine lines is accompanied by an invitation; for the example above, the invitation is “befriend unknowing.” Kathy closes each chapter with a prayer she has written related to the invitation.

You can learn more about the book on Kathy Swaar’s website.

Here’s an image of the printing block for the book cover.

A fun fact about the creation of this image is that the heart in the center was a happy accident.

I was working on carving the flower shape and divided it into parts to make it easier. When I saw the heart, I decided to leave it and try printing, knowing I could always carve that part away later if I didn’t like it. I’m glad I kept it as it became central to the image.

Thank you for being a part of this newsletter community.

Thank you to everyone who has been sharing images and creations.

Please feel free to share anything you are noticing or creating.

Respond to this email or share on Instagram with hashtag #papercolorearth

Thanks, Kathryn

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