Seeking Divine Love: Life as a Spiritual Journey
Laurie Gordon of Bend, OR, USA
Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to you,
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I;
for you are my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me abide in your tent forever,
find refuge under the shelter of your wings. -Psalm 61:1-4
Fierce rain and raging winds pummel San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. Inside the sanctuary, stillness reigns. Silence is pregnant with the possibility of revelation. I have come to walk the labyrinth patterned on the floor of this sacred place in a reenactment of my spiritual journey.
The journey begins on the periphery of an immense circle and ends in the six-petaled space at the center of the winding pattern. Between origin and destination the path unfolds in multi-layered stretches of varying lengths. Punctuated by sudden turning points, the direction of travel changes abruptly and without warning.
One by one those who would walk this journey enter the pattern to follow its long road. My turn comes. One foot slowly follows the other as I tread the winding path with quiet focus and receptive heart. As I patiently and slowly tread the path that twists and turns like the patterns of my life, I become settled and aware.
At the beginning, the path takes me frustratingly close to, but not truly into, the Center I seek. Farther along, the endless path seems to carry me farther away from my destination…and yet, I am drawing ever nearer to that which I seek. So it has been in my life. When God seems easily accessible, predictable, I am not as close as I might think. When I feel distant from Divine Presence, I am almost there.
As I walk, it becomes clear that my journey is mine and mine alone. I am sometimes lonely, craving the companionship of someone to walk beside me. Occasionally another journeyer travels at my side on a parallel path, but one of us inevitably veers away at some unshared turning point. I am left to wander alone, again, toward that distant center. Respect grows for the uniqueness of each person’s journey and the divergent paths of fellow travelers.
In this one recreation of my life’s pilgrimage, I have not remembered every tortuous and lovely thing that has ever happened to bring me to this place. But in this meditative reenactment of the spiritual journey, I have seen with peculiar clarity what is relevant for this moment in my life. Rather than perceiving my life as a series of painful or mundane fragments, I experience my journey as a luminous whole. Though made up of ordinary events, I recognize patterns of extraordinary grace.
“Awake, my soul!” (Psalm 57:8)
The Prayer of the Heart
Early Christian disciples desired to take seriously the scripture mandate to pray “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The prayer of the heart invites us to pray “continuously” by repeating and returning to a prayer phrase planted for intentional reflection and deepening. Choose a word or phrase (from scripture, hymnody, or personal reflection) that has meaning for you. The Jesus Prayer is one form of the prayer of the heart: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” (Luke 18:35-43). Invite this simple phrase to repeat in your heart throughout the day, awakening your soul to God’s presence.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.