There is a sacred space in the middle of the St. Louis Convention Center, a place of reflection and respite, a circular room in the far corner of the building with almost 360 degrees of windows. On the floor of that room is a hand-painted labyrinth, prepared with love for the General Assembly by a thoughtful team of volunteers from the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy.
The presbytery hopes all who are present at the assembly will have the opportunity to experience this sacred space, and offers the invitation: “We hope you will take the time to visit this light-filled room with walkable art beckoning you to a time of meditation and prayer with God.”
Walking a labyrinth gives people the opportunity to find serenity in the midst of the chaos of the General Assembly. Walkers are encouraged to work through three stages: release, receive and return. Walkers are invited to quiet their minds, and release the daily details of their lives. Then they are invited to receive what God has to offer them through the meditative space. Finally they are invited to return to the assembly with the wisdom received, offer a prayer of gratitude and take the labyrinth’s gift to the walker’s life and the world.
The story of how the labyrinth was created and made it into the room is a beautiful reflection of God’s grace and spirit. Three months before the start of the assembly, the location of the labyrinth was selected. The Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy owned a cloth labyrinth, but its diameter was only 12 feet and the room was 29 feet in diameter. Through some resourceful hustling, the volunteer team of the presbytery, led by stated clerk Joy Myers and ministry assistant at LaDue Chapel, Anne Peacock, found a solution. Using a local tarp company, they were able to procure an octagonal canvas of 29 feet in diameter that could hold up to the many people who would walk on it while in prayer. They reached out to a company in Connecticut to provide them the pattern for the labyrinth. Finally they found a bunch of local artists and volunteers. They spread the canvas out in the fellowship hall of LaDue Chapel, invited local Presbyterians to write Scripture and prayer on the blank canvas, and then prayerfully painted the labyrinth onto the canvas.
A prayer for all the twists and turns that lead us to the center and out to the ends of the earth
by Jill Duffield
You, Lord, are the way
You, Lord, are the truth
You, Lord, are the life
You say: Come, follow me.
You say: Do not be afraid.
You say: I am with you always.
You say: my peace I give,
You command us: love one another
You command us: love God and neighbor
You tell us: Be my witnesses
You tell us: Go to the ends of the earth, teach, baptize
You instruct us: Feed my sheep
You implore us: care for the least of these
You promise us: I will not leave you alone. EVER.
We hear your call and long to follow so we take the first step of faith, not sure where it will take us but hoping against hope that it leads us closer to you, to our center, to the center, to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
We walk by faith and not by sight, Step by step, around turns that seem to take us away from where we thought you wanted us to go,
We loop around, fear we are lost, but stalwartly stay on the path.
Sometimes we are alone and suddenly surprised by our fellow travelers, comforted by their silence presence, by the knowledge that we do not go on this faith journey alone.
We can only see a few feet in front us as we twist and turn.
As we get anxious, unsure if we are going the right way, we breath deep and keep going until we find our center, the center, you.
Help us to rest in you, aware of your presence, embraced by your peace, comforted by your grace, upheld in your love and then give us the courage to start back out again,
Step by step, toward the world you so love, ready to take the peace and love, light and mercy, compassion and healing to those who have not yet found the way or have lost their way or who long to know there is a way. Make us people of the way, the truth and the life, for your sake and for the sake of the world. Amen.