At holiday time, we are so busy trying to juggle and get everything done that we lose sight of its importance and significance. Instead of going in and out of malls purchasing items for my kids that they do not need, I decided to volunteer at a Friary located in my town. (http://www.littleportionfriary.net/) The Franciscan Brothers have been baking bread, starting as early as 4 a.m., on Friday morning for over 25 years. They sell the bread to help keep their ministry funded. They welcome volunteers to help them make the bread, especially since they can make up to 105 loaves at a time! The experience uplifted me and I felt wonderful to contribute to the community in which I live.
|@Little Portion Friary|
I joined Ed O’Connell and Pam Wolfskill, both volunteers, at 6 a.m last Friday morning to help them bake cinnamon raisin bread. We made 35 loaves of bread in a small, hot kitchen. I enjoyed learning the “secret recipe,” which contained 16 lbs of flour and over 16 cups of raisins. I even operated the mixer, which was almost as tall as I was. Where can you ever do anything as cool as that?
In addition to the bakery, I also had a tour of the chapel, gift shop and living quarters. The Franciscan Brothers take three vows upon becoming monks: a vow of poverty, a vow of chastity and a vow of obedience. I certainly could see the vow of poverty reflected in their living quarters. The premises screamed “simplicity.” A word we often forget in our race to outdo our neighbor. There is something very serene and peaceful about simple living that you just cannot capture unless you experience it.
While waiting for the bread to rise, Pam took me on a tour of the grounds. I was surprised to see a Labyrinth, which is a walking meditation. A Labyrinth is not to be confused with a maze. A Labyrinth has only one opening with walking paths that lead you to a center. There are three parts to a labyrinth and here’s what they signify: the walking in, which is for contemplation and letting go; the center, which signifies “enlightenment” or reaching your goal; and walking back out, which signifies spiritual rejuvenation. A Labyrinth is symbolic of life’s journey, as long as you put one foot in front of the other, you will reach your destination.
|The Labyrinth @ Little Portion Friary, Mount Sinai|
I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to feel as I set foot inside the labyrinth. I found myself slowly following the path, looking at my feet while I was taking my steps. I thought of what it would be like to reach the center, which meant for me, reaching my goals. Step-by-step I progressed until I noticed I was actually on a row behind the previous one. The structure of a labyrinth is curves of rows going forward and then backward. In life when we are trying to ascertain a goal, how many times do we feel like we take three steps forward than two steps back? I knew I had to keep going forward; I couldn’t turn around because if I did, I would never reach the center. When I finally reached the piece of soil in the center of the Labyrinth, I felt elated! As I turned around in a complete 360, I saw all the paths, with their twists and turns, that lead me to the center. I had to smile as I marveled that I had reached my goal. What a wild road it would be…but it is doable! I CAN DO IT! As I left the center on my way back out, I felt hopeful, inspired and renewed. My plan for the future was realized….just put one foot in front of the other. What an amazing experience! Everybody who walks a Labyrinth will have a different spiritual experience. Why not find one near you and try it? Look at this website to see if there is a Labyrinth in your area: http://labyrinthsociety.org/about-tls
|Walking the Labyrinth|
|Reaching the Center|
|Walking out @ feeling elated!|
Once I got home from the Little Portion Friary, I had to go back to bed. My body’s not used to getting up so early. However, it was so worth it! Those few early hours affected me in ways that are indescribable!
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