Christian Formation for Adults
Adult education programs are offered throughout the church year. Keep an eye on the newsletter, bulletin, and social media accounts for multiple opportunities. Ascension also has two established programs for adult learning:
- Wednesday Morning Study Group: Every Wednesday at 10:00, a group of thoughtful, committed members meet to discuss a book chosen for its spiritual themes. Contact the Rector for more information.
- Education for Ministry (EFM): This is a four-year education program from the School of Theology at the University of the South. The program covers the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, the history of Christianity after the first Christians, and the development of the church in the modern world. Extra readings address the life of faith, the role of the church in environmental issues, and the issues of justice and equity. Contact Peggy Ruppel, the EFM mentor, at [email protected] for more information.
- Baptism and Confirmation: Preparation for adult Holy Baptism and Confirmation is held in Lent.
- Retreats: An annual Men’s Retreat, Silent Retreat, and Women’s Retreat are held. Please check parish media for dates and details.
Our labyrinth is an indoor/outdoor canvas model created especially for us by the Labyrinth Company in Baltimore, Maryland and funded through generous donations to the Church’s Memorial fund. It is a six-circuit path loosely patterned after the labyrinth on the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France.
The Labyrinth: Meditation in Motion
The labyrinth is a spiritual tool for prayer and meditation. It is not a maze, which has dead ends and wrong turns which sometimes must be retraced. The labyrinth is designed to be moved through on a single path leading to the center and out again. Rather than to confuse, the labyrinth is designed to be an aid to spiritual clarity and meditation. It is a representa tion of our journey through life, a symbolic pilgrimage.
The labyrinth is ancient. It is found in religious traditions around the world, with similar patterns found in the designs of Buddhist mandalas. The most famous labyrinth from ancient times was the Cretan one, the supposed lair of the mythological Minotaur. Turf labyrinths still exist in England and northern Europe, and during the Middle Ages many cathedrals inlaid labyrinth patterns into their stone floors. In time, the labyrinth fell out of use and was almost forgotten, but it has been revived in recent years by such celebrated activities as the Veriditas Project at Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco.
Why do we Walk?
The labyrinth can provide a way to quiet the mind and to increase awareness of self and the relationship of the self to others and to God. It is a vehicle toward incised unity, wholeness and healing.
How to Walk a Labyrinth
The labyrinth has only one path. As you follow the winding path to the center and back out again, open your mind and heart and let it become a mirror for where you are in your life.
In general, there are three stages to a typical walk: Shedding, or Purgation, the first stage, begins as you enter the labyrinth. You are invited to release, to let go of, the details of our life and the distractions of your heart. The act of walking quiets and empties the mind.
Illumination, when you reach the center and linger there, is the second stage. This is the place where you allow yourself to receive guidance. It is a place of prayer and meditation. Stand there as long as you wish. Union, the third stage, begins as you follow the path out. Each time you walk the labyrinth, you can seek to be healed and strengthened for your work in the world.
Suggestions for your Walk
- Prepare for your walk by taking time to reflect on where you are in your life.
- Pose a question that you want to work on as you walk the labyrinth (not questions susceptible to a yes or no answer).
- Use repetition. Many people like to use a phrase or word, or even the Lord’s Prayer, to repeat as they walk.
- Read scripture as you walk.
- Pray as you walk, a prayer of petition, intercession, praise or thanksgiving.
- Walk to celebrate or mark a special event in your life.
- Ask for healing as you walk.
Labyrinth image by Ssolbergj (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons