Friday, July 20, 2012

Labyrinth Retreat – Part 3 - The Seashell

 Symbolism of the Seashell
At the retreat I learned that seashells are a symbol of one’s spiritual journey from birth to death in Christianity. How wonderful, because I have seashells in my garden! And on my porch! Now they mean more to me than just a decoration. Also, if you take a cross section of a conch shell, you will see that the shell grows in a spiral! The basic labyrinthine pattern occurs naturally in nature! I also have some plants in my garden that symbolize a journey from birth to death by the way they are constantly growing and reproducing. The elephant ear is the best example. The largest always has at least four leaves. One always ages and dies but at the same time a new one is being unfurled at the base of the plant. This plant also reproduces new plants constantly, and they range in size from tiny ones with three inch leaves to larger ones with nine inch leaves. The same is true of the four o’clock plants and the alligator cacti. In the same flower bed I see baby, child, adolescent, adult and aged elephant ears, four o’clocks, and alligator cacti.
During the last two weeks of June this year (2012) I experienced all stages of life, including death. Al and I have breakfast at a local Krystal’s fast food restaurant. They cook breakfast to order and a lot of retired people eat there on a regular basis. If one of us doesn’t show up for several days, we all get worried and make telephone calls to see if he/she is all right. The staff knows us and starts ringing up our order when we walk through the door. First, one of our members passed away. He had been terminally ill for several months. He did not come every day, but when he did, no matter how sick he was, he always had a smile on his face and was singing a song. Al and I talked to his wife at the viewing and she said he went to Heaven that way, smiling and singing! On June 23, I celebrated three birthdays. The first was for a 93 year old lady who eats at Krystal’s. She lives independently, can read without glasses, and only takes one prescription pill for her blood pressure. Wow, she inherited some good genes!!! The second birthday party was for a two year old. That’s at the opposite end of the number line! She was so cute! The third birthday was mine! Friends invited us out for dinner and surprised me with a cake and presents! I got some jewelry, an oversized champagne glass that had “Happy Birthday” written on it, and a bottle of wine! My birthday was Monday, June 25, and I turned 63. I took the champagne glass to the Sexy Senior Citizens Breakfast Club on that day and drank my iced tea out of it! Al had picked out a funny card for me and another couple bought me a balloon! I also wore the new jewelry! That night Al took me and Dorothy to the Tilted Kilt, a new Irish pub in our neighborhood. I got a free dessert and a birthday song from the waitresses. We had a fun day!
In closing I want to share one more thing that God taught me about the labyrinth. It represents different things according to my spiritual needs at the time I am using it, but when I arrive at the center, that is where I am still and listen to God. The center can represent different things. Sometimes my pilgrimage leads me to the foot of cross, often to a state of wellness, frequently to the promises of God. I used to think, “When I get to the center I will be in God’s presence. Then I can ask him what I came for, and then I’ll say good bye, walk out of the labyrinth, and return to the secular world with the wisdom that God just imparted to me.” One day it dawned on me that God is not confined to the center of a labyrinth, any more than He is confined to a church building or temple! God is always present; He never leaves my side – or yours, because He is omnipresent! So what is so special about the center of the labyrinth? God answered my question. God and I commune in the labyrinth without the distractions of daily life. I can clear my mind of them and only focus on Him. Now when I get ready to walk out of the labyrinth I don’t say, “Goodbye, God.” Instead I say, “OK, God, let’s go back to the real world.” And we walk out together – which is, actually, when I think about it, the same way we walked in!
Here is a pertinent quote from 1Kings 8:27-30 from Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the temple God commanded him to build. “Will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven … cannot contain thee, how much less this house which I have built? Yet…listen to the supplication …of thy people when they pray…hear and forgive.”
One picture shows me celebrating my birthday at the Krystal’s Sexy Senior Citizens Club in the morning, with my birthday balloon and singing octopus card, and drinking iced tea out of my over-sized champagne glass. The other picture shows me at the Tilted Kilt Irish Pub in the evening. One picture shows the seashells. The other two garden pictures show all the stages of life that the seashell represents in plant form with different sized elephant ears, alligator cacti and four o’clock plants.

1 comment:

  1. Bobby, I've really enjoyed reading your series on the Women's Retreat and labyrinths!
    Happy Birthday - late, but never too late for birthday greetings! Looks like you had a wonderful day of celebration.
    xoxo Jane