Home > Blogs, Episcopal Labyrinths, Occult, Theology, Worship > Kinesthetic Worship: An email conversation with Jill Woodliff of Lent and Beyond

Kinesthetic Worship: An email conversation with Jill Woodliff of Lent and Beyond

3 December 2009

[Elder’s Note:  Jill Woodliff of Lent and Beyond and I had a fascinating conversation a while back regarding how Episcopal labyrinths fill a void within our worship experiences.  In addition to the Stations of the Cross (pdf of liturgy here), she also mentions other kinesthetic experiences, which I may follow-up on at some point.  I’ve taken the liberty to include some links within the text of the email conversation, for the benefit of the reader. 

Posted with her permission  (Thank you again, Jill). 

– EO]

Hi Jill,
The reason I’m writing is I was wondering if you could help me out with a piece I’m doing. There is a Labyrinth event happening soon at an Episcopal parish in Cinci – it’s being advertised somewhere on the DSO site (don’t have the link with me right now).

I’m going to do a piece about this in my blog. Greg Griffith did a good piece about a year ago on Episcopal labyrinths, and I’ve also been scouring the web. Uses seem to go between meditative / worshipful to downright demonic. So, it will be an interesting piece, to say the least.

I was wondering though, what your thoughts were on the matter. Also, if you had access to internet resources that would be helpful to me as I research this piece.

Peace and Favor,
– Elder Oyster

Hi, Elder,
I have no references. This is my gut reaction:
1. Although TEC does include standing, sitting, and kneeling in its worship and has more movement than many evangelical churches, compared with other styles of worship, we have diminished the kinesthetic use of our bodies in worship. For example, in Africa, they dance to the hymns. The charismatics clap and raise their hands.
Probably the most powerful expression of praise in scripture was David moving the ark to Jerusalem. He offered sacrifices every 8 steps and exuberantly danced into the city.
Having been to Africa and visited charismatic churches, my hunch is that we dampen some of the joy by not being freer with our bodies in worship.
I’ve been reflecting on Gen 1 lately. First the Spirit of God moved over the face of the deep. Then, God spoke, Let there be . . . Then fruitfulness resulted. Could this be a prophetic model? Movement followed by sound followed by fruitfulness. Look at Ezek 37. Sound followed movement of Spirit, then fruitfulness. The Spirit moved in both.
2. The labyrinth appears to have been used for both good and bad, Christian and pagan.
3. If I were to go to the trouble of constructing a kinesthetic prayer tool, I would not construct something that could be used either way. I would construct a stations of the cross.

God bless,
Jill

Hi Jill,
I fundamentally agree. I find there is a clear dividing line between labyrinths and say, Ouija boards, but then again .. it raises a lot of questions.

I’ve also discovered in my research that occultic symbols aren’t the same as we commonly understand a symbol to be. We commonly understand symbols to be indicative of a “something else,” whereas in the Occult, symbols can be ritualistic springboards.

One charismatic pastor of my acquaintance said he visited a pyramid in Egypt at one time. Went into a chamber full of “symbols” on the walls. Years later, he was having serious back pain, and the docs didn’t know what to do about it. He had some of his people pray over him, and one of them asked him during the prayer session, whether the phrase, “King Tut,” meant anything to him.

He then relayed the story about visiting the pyramids. “Oh yeah,” they said. “Turns out, you brought back a friend…”
But again, I don’t know the degree of danger with labyrinths vs other occult symbols.
But that begs the question all over again, doesn’t it?
Thanks for writing back, Jill. If you are of a mind, you are more than welcome to publish your observations and any other opinions (less those stated in my commenting policy ) on my blog.

Have a great weekend, and thank you again
– Elder

I read your previous posts on the labyrinth. I agree. We see through a glass darkly, and I suspect that we unwittingly expose ourselves to the occult more times than we realize. Satan doesn’t play fair; he’s just as happy with an entry point opened in ignorance as with an entry point opened in full awareness. (I have deep reservations about Reiki, but that is another subject.)
Here are some other kinesthetic tools:
—The re-creation of the tabernacle in Eureka Springs, AR. Fascinating educational tour.
http://www.ebibleteacher.com/imagehtml/passion.html
—A scripture garden in Eureka Springs—plants from the Bible. Nice place to meditate.
http://arkansasroadstories.com/attractions/covgar.html
—Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, AL. Miniatures of Jerusalem buildings.
http://www.avemariagrotto.com/
—Pilgrimage walking paths, such as Santiago de Compostela.
http://www.travelwithachallenge.com/Spanish_Walking_Tour.htm
I’m sure there are others, but they are not common because they are such ambitious undertakings. I wonder if the relative scarcity of orthodox kinesthetic experiences in this country helped pave the way for the growth of the labyrinth phenomenon.
I simply share these thoughts in case you have an opportunity to point out alternatives.
I’ve thought it would be cool to have a King David garden. Kids could use a slingshot on a “giant,” sit in a cave and hear a psalm, etc. The Bible is such a rich resource, there is no limit to ideas.

Bless your blog and your witness,
Jill

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