Thursday, December 06, 2007

Advent 5 - Cairn

A cairn is a Gaelic term for a small mound of stones left as a marker.

Last summer when I spent eight days on a silent retreat at the Jesuit Center at Guelph, Ontario, I found myself walking the labyrinth for an hour of prayer every morning and night. Whatever I was praying -- a passage of Scripture, an issue in my life, a focus on specific people -- was amenable to being broken down into the series of curves around the labyrinth.

I got started the very first night when, terribly upset about something that had happened within an hour or two of my arrival and unable to sleep, I ventured outside at midnight to wander around and discovered the labyrinth, mown into the grass and completely alight under the full August moon. And then I just kept going, every morning at sunrise and every night at dusk or, sometimes, long after everyone else was asleep.

The interior rose circle of the Guelph labyrinth is created out of smooth and glossy stones, and I began to move them, surreptitiously, into my own small cairn whenever I walked the labyrinth. I didn't want to destroy the outline of the rose, so I had to be judicious in my selection of stones, and eventually I had to settle for moving the same ones around on the rock on which I had placed them. But I left them there when I returned home at the end of the week, a small reminder that God and I had been there together, in rural Ontario.


Presbyterian Gal said...

That sounds like such a wondrous place!

RevDrKate said...

I have gotten behind in my blog glad to be catching up to find that you are blogging your way through Advent too. Wonderful posts!

Wayne Stratz said...

very cool... God must desire us to create with nature. In August I played with branches and sticks while on an 8 day retreat.. heading out the the retreat center this weekend.... may have to walk to where I left them.

Kathryn J said...

I hiked to a very tall waterfall near Ithaca this fall and was delighted to find the most marvelous cairns just below the pool as the stream ran out. It was beautiful.

The labyrinth by moonlight sounds best.