“…ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jer. 6:16
The Labyrinth is a prototype found in most religious traditions in various forms around the world. The most popular are replicas of the 11 circuit Chartres Labyrinth, which was laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France, around 1220. You will find that it is still there today.
The labyrinth has a history of thousands of years and is found in the Jewish mystical tradition, the Hopi medicine wheel, and the Tibetan sand mandala,. Through the centuries, the labyrinth has come to mean many different things to different people.
In the Christian tradition, the first labyrinths were symbolic paths where the sacred pilgrimage to the Holy Land could be made closer to home and without threat of danger. The labyrinth is steeped in the ancient Christian practice of seeking God to find meaning to life and answers to problems.
Though new meaning to life and answers to problems may still be found while walking the labyrinth, it is seen by Christians today as a "prayer walk." It offers a unique way of purposfully quieting our hearts and our minds, and being sensitive to that "still, small voice" that is the very Spirit of our God.
WAYS TO USE THE LABYRINTH
Each labyrinth journey, whether you are walking along the circling path or standing in the center, will bring a new experience. Perhaps you will unexpectedly be filled with joy or kick off your shoes and skip along the path with the freedom of a child. You may be overcome with tears of love for God, for others, for the world. Your experience may be somber with deep thoughts or intimate conversations the Lord. Each person’s experience will be different. If you do not experience any of these things, do not be discouraged. We all come with our individual personalities and unique ways of communing with God and it is important not to compare yourself to someone else. One person’s way is no better, or worse, than another’s.
Be open to the gentle guiding of the spirit. Remember, you are in prayer in this journey. Take the time you need once you are in the center, and feel comfortable standing, sitting, or kneeling there.
WALKING THE LABYRINTH
• Clear your mind and become aware of your breathing.
• Allow yourself to find the pace your body wants to go. Some people walk slowly, some faster. You may pass others or let them step around you. These things are indicative of everyday life.
• The path is two ways. Those going in will meet those coming out. Focus on your own journey, yet be gentle and mindful of others.
• Do what feels natural.