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franciscan - January 2005

© The Society of Saint Francis, 2004

Ministerís Letter

Sister Joyce CSF, Minister General of the First Order Sisters,  writes: 

I spent a week in Chartres with a study group on the labyrinth led by Lauren Artress in May 2000.  The following May, while on holiday in France, I went back to Chartres, alone, to walk the labyrinth.  Many people were walking the labyrinth that day, but one woman in particular seemed to be following me.  Afterwards this woman and I spoke together and she explained, "You looked as if you knew what you were doing."  

Then the woman told me that she was on holiday, visiting Paris and took the day trip to Chartres to walk the labyrinth.  She said that she was from Long Island, New York.  I immediately told her of the Little Portion Friary's labyrinth and encouraged her to call them to get a schedule of their labyrinth activities.

In August this year a phone call came in to the Friary and a woman said that a few years ago she had met a Sister Joyce in Chartres and had been told about their labyrinth.  The stunned brother informed her that I was there at the Friary that very day as the Ministers' Meetings were taking place 

We had a wonderful reunion lunch after she had walked the labyrinth. It was clear from our conversation that Irene was on a pilgrimage in search of God. She did not quite use that terminology but coming from a Jewish background she might relate to it.  However one describes it, here was synchronicity at work, one of the many stories of 'miracles' on the labyrinth.

This occurs reasonably often as I was to discover the following day when it was an open evening at Little Portion for local people to share a meal and walk the labyrinth. I happened to sit next to Linda, a trained labyrinth facilitator, who collects such stories. She asked to use my story which delighted me as much as the incident itself.

But the story does not end there. This month I told it to one of my brothers in London. Two days later at church he heard a woman preaching about labyrinth walking and using it as a metaphor to show how sometimes the only thing we can do in life is to keep putting one foot in front of the other, trusting that the path will unfold in front of us. In conversation afterwards the brother told her my story and before he finished she recognised having heard this story somewhere quite recently and then she remembered reading about it in Linda's collection of stories on the internet!  I am hoping we might meet together sometime.

As we sisters of the First Order stand on the threshold of celebrating the centenary of the foundation of our Community in February 2005, the labyrinth metaphor speaks powerfully to me of the importance of trusting in our God, who showed Francis and Clare the path ahead, who showed Mother Mary Rosina and Mother Helen Elizabeth the path ahead, to show us the path ahead for the years to come. f


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