At the center of our church is a labyrinth. Housed within our church is a beautiful, inlaid wood labyrinth.
We offer our labyrinth to the community for individuals and groups to come and walk. In addition, we have a canvas labyrinth that is available for groups to use at retreats, or even on college campuses.
Throughout history, in many places and cultures, the labyrinth has appeared as a form of sacred wisdom. Its patterns are said to express an archetype in the shape of a mandala. Used to replicate the journey of the spirit one experiences as a pilgrim, the labyrinth can lead us to the prayerful inner depths of the heart.
Although its origins are unknown, the labyrinth was used in Europe by medieval Christians and pilgrims to replace the longer journey to Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
Historically Christian pilgrims walked a symbolic spiritual journey to and through Jerusalem, following the footsteps of Jesus. By walking the labyrinth, they experienced the metaphorical journey of their lives.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying: "This is the way, walk in it."
- Isaiah 30:21
The effortless concentration of walking benefits the body, the soul, and the spirit. Its calming effects on the body are deepened by the rhythmic pattern of walking and breathing.
The simple act of walking also allows the individual to "go within" the soul and into the inner place of the heart to find peace. Some use the labyrinth as a form of centering prayer and meditation, leading to an experience of union with God. Some find it helps relieve tension. Most come to the labyrinth to solve problems they are carrying, as a means of gaining inspiration, or as a focusing mechanism to help them face the complexities of life.
Like so much else we experience in life, what you get out of the labyrinth depends on what you bring to it. Let us suggest that, as you walk the labyrinth, you set aside any pre-conceived notions or skepticisms you may hold and simply be open to what happens at that particular moment.
Make me to know your ways, O God; teach me your paths.
- Psalm 25:4
SYMBOLISM OF THE LABYRINTH
The Path of Purgation: The path to the center is the path of shedding and letting go.
The Path of Illumination: The path to the center is the path of Light, or presence of the Divine.
The Path of Union: The path of returning from the center is the path of bringing back with you the inner presence of God into the world.