Photo Credit: St. Scholastica Monastery
(…continued from yesterday.)
Entering the labyrinth path, I proceeded at a slow and steady pace, one foot in front of the other, between smooth stones and crunching dried pine needles. I started by tapping each finger one at a time on my leg, repeating the name of the person whose initial was on that fingertip, presenting them before the father.
Pacing the rhythm to my steps, I returned to the first finger and continued winding patiently through the path as I recounted the words that were spoken, the wounds that were cut, the actions that were taken.
Surprisingly, there was no fear, no anxiousness, no sorrow. The bitterness, anger, wounds and pride, indeed, had no power over me. God is greater than my heart, and he knew I was ready.
I repeated each name again, slowly, methodically, melodiously. Then I recited the name of each person’s spouse and, because they are one flesh, I went back through my fingers naming the person and their spouse together.
Once everything was out there, I began to pray forgiveness over each name:
“Lord, I surrender this person to you.
I surrender my need to change what happened,
I surrender my desire to control their actions,
I receive the responsibility to press on toward the goal, to follow your path.”
I lifted each name some more and, as I approached the center, I began rubbing each initial off my fingertips until they were no longer visible. I entered the center of the labyrinth, and I knelt at the feet of the father. One by one, I laid yellow wildflowers I had been carrying in my right hand, one for each person, at his feet, as well. I stood and opened my arms to his spirit. I silently recited several times, “You will go out with joy and be led forth in peace, the mountains and hills will burst forth in song.”
I took my pen and, where I had removed the initials, I inscribed the word “LOOSE” across my fingertips, and drew an open heart on my palm. I circled back out of the labyrinth, reciting scripture and singing hymns of praise, realizing the power to forgive, the awe-inspiring responsibility of forgiveness, comes not from my knowing how to release control, but through leaning on the grace and strength of Christ, my savior.
In the few days that have followed that encounter, it is not as if all memories have been replaced by rainbows and butterflies, but I can sense a change in my spirit. I’m less lethargic, my creative juices are flowing, and I haven’t been late for work all week (hey, that's something). I believe our father longs to release us from the burdens we willingly heap upon ourselves, to bring us fully into the freedom of his presence. If God created us, he knows our faults and our fears, and he formed our innermost being. As the psalmist says, he has searched our hearts, he knows us inside and out, we are fearfully and wonderfully made, wonderful works of his hands.
God knows our anxious thoughts, and yet he calls us to be anxious for nothing, to seek him first and trust him to take care of the rest.
Let us commit our spirits into his hands, whether they are spirits of condemnation, fear, or anxiety. Let us allow him to mold and transform them into spirits of joy, peace and grace. May we learn to forgive as we have been forgiven. May we learn to extend grace as we have received grace. May we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.