Our current prayer path is in expansion mode, and we will be adding benches. We have some ideas to add some landscaping aesthetics too, allowing for beauty to proclaim God’s goodness and presence (sacredness). More benches to me, means more ideas are brewing for ways to improve recognition of the sacred all around us. What I am beginning to see is that this path is such a great opportunity for embodied practices – movement and position-based prayers more than cognitive- based prayers. Many of us have had much more practice with the latter, and the gift of the former can be disarming, freeing, and uncomfortable. Positioned-based prayers reflect and use the surroundings of where you are praying as the basis or framework for the prayer. Another new addition to our campus is a labyrinth made of lemongrass. A labyrinth is an example of a positioned-based prayer.
When we were first introduced to the idea of moving to Haiti, one of the phrases that was used to describe what my role would be was to “set up sacred space” on our campus. Although the prayer path and benches were already in place, a prayer guide was desired. Once the creation of the prayer guide was completed, I started considering other ways to set up sacred space. Then my mind ran down this path: is there really such a thing as non-sacred space? Or is there just unrealized or unrecognized sacred space everywhere? Derek, our son and his wife Damaris, went to Kuyper College, where this phrase is prominent: and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’ is proclaimed! To paraphrase, isn’t all life sacred, revealing the fingerprint of God the Creator?! So maybe my role isn’t really to create something sacred, but to improve the recognition of God in places, people, and things wherever we are. The use of paths, attention to familiar words with added nuances, and intentional slowing down are just a few ways to bring about this recognition. So although, it might just be semantics, it seems important to me, as I am here, to learn to recognize God’s sacredness everywhere.
A labyrinth is a different style of walking path. It is a circular and can be considered a symbolic journey (see picture below). The steps inward are intended to be a leaving behind – of attitudes, frustrations, losses, and struggles. Reaching the center of the maze after what seems to be illogical circling back symbolizes our walk with God and how we move toward Him, but we make choices that pull us back. Or life happens in ways that create what feels like dead ends or u-turns. But getting to the heart of God without the most direct logical path is often how we grow in faith and humility. Then journeying back out from the center reflects moving through life with the gifts of knowing both God and our self in a more true and life-giving way.
Here on the rocks, through the mud, and through our community we are encouraging one another to stay true to God and how He created each of us as we walk through life in Haiti. Let your steps in this day bring you into a fuller awareness of God, wherever they take you!