I’ve been wanting a tattoo for a long time, but refused to permanently engrave something that didn’t have deep significance to me. Unfortunately the two most obvious choices, a cross and the Celtic Tree of Life have been extremely overplayed recently...
A while back I decided that a prayer labyrinth would be an appropriate tattoo. For those who aren’t aware, labyrinths have been used by Christians throughout the centuries as a tool for prayer and reflection. The center of the labyrinth represents the presence of God.
They are not mazes, there are no dead-ends or false trails. There are however many switchbacks in the path. Early on (in this particular labyrinth) the person walking is very close to the center and then later finds themselves moving further away. However, if we are moving forward we are drawing nearer to God, even when it may at first glance appear otherwise. The long paths around the outside of the circle can seem never-ending, but they are a necessary part of our journey...and after pressing through, the center is that much more appreciated.
The significance of prayer in my own life has increased greatly over the past five years. We have found ourselves on a journey through the wilderness that has at times seemed to contain a inescapable darkness and struggle. We have learned that prayer - both personal and communal - is more than just a requirement or chance to apologize for the ways we’ve “blown it” with God. Sometimes prayer is the only tangible reminder of brighter days. Honestly, sometimes prayer is a desperate cry when we aren’t sure the light even exists.
I’ve had the opportunity to walk prayer labyrinths on several occasions...and this simple act has had tremendous impact in my life. Whether it was a path of tiles in a small enclave at SMU, a bunch of rocks piled on the shores of Lake Texoma, a well worn path at a small monastery in south Dallas, or even a temporary set-up at a youth minister’s convention - this journey of prayer has tapped into moments of deep reflection in my life of faith.
This tattoo is placed on my forearm (which was actually my brother’s idea) so that I will see it regularly and be called to pray continually. When needed I can actually “walk” this labyrinth by tracing it with my finger (once my skin stops hurting!)
However there is another significance in carrying this labyrinth with me everywhere I go...
A LIVING LABYRINTH
As a disciple of Jesus, I am called and equipped to be, in a sense, a living labyrinth. Wherever I go, I carry with me the story of The Journey. This story, which began before creation and has a culmination that transcends time itself, also includes the small and seemingly insignificant story of me. People who spend time walking with me SHOULD have the opportunity to encounter moments of reflection and prayer. If I am committed to the calling I’ve received, then I will serve as a living labyrinth to those around me.
I’d be lying if I tried to pretend this is an accurate description of me...but I want it to be.
My life is meant to be more than a proclamation of morality. I am a disciple of the true Revolutionary; the One who is in the process of remaking and restoring all creation. My life is a participation in that reconciliation...The labyrinth will be a useful tool until God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. When that day arrives fully I will finally reside fully in the center of the labyrinth...which will then serve as a reminder of the path that I never walked alone.