Walking the Labyrinth

Did you know that labyrinths have been around for more than 4,000 years? When SPC’s labyrinth was built, it was designed to be a replica of the classical 11-circuit, or circle, labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France. It is truly one of the most beautiful and peaceful locations at SPC. Members and visitors walk our labyrinth and rediscover a long-forgotten ritual and spiritual tool. It is place to meditate, to look within, to recognize the wider patterns in life, and to work in harmony with others. The winding path becomes a metaphor for life’s journey, with its twists and turns, slow places and fast stretches, peaks and valleys (joys and sorrows), turning points and insights.

The History of Labyrinths

Although we don’t really know their origins, labyrinths seem to be divine imprints and are made of many different materials. Some are carved in stone; others (Roman style) are made of mosaics; still others found throughout England, Scandinavia, and Germany are turf labyrinths formed by mounds of earth covered with grass. Pilgrims are said to have walked the labyrinth at Chartres if they could not make an actual pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

SPC’s Labyrinth

Our labyrinth is located behind the ABC House, adjacent to the McCabe Garden and surrounded by the Memorial Garden. The gardens and labyrinth are accessed through an opening in the hedge along the western side of the parking lot. Walkers are welcome at any time, except when the nursery school is in session (weekdays 8:30 am–3:00 pm during the school year). Thanks to our Presbyterian Women and the Property Committee, who collaborated on both design and funding, it is now lighted on Sunday evenings, as well as other times when requested. Groups wishing to use the labyrinth need permission from the church office; a contribution toward the maintenance is requested.

 The Walk

You might think of your walk as having three parts, or stages:

  • First, moving toward the center. (Don’t worry if you feel a bit wobbly at first as you try to stay on the path; you will soon find your rhythm.) This is a good time to relax, to breathe slowly and consciously, and to practice letting go in order to find a quiet mind.
  • Second, being in the center. This can be a place of rest, meditation, prayer, and sometimes illumination. Stay in the center as long as you wish.
  • Third, leaving the center. Journey “back home,” taking with you a sense of presence, of God, and of the healing forces at work in the world.

There is no right way to walk and you cannot get lost. The path is not a maze and the way you enter is the same way by which you leave. It is a simple journey that has no prescribed time limit, a universal journey walked in the company of those who have come before and those who will come after, and yet experienced alone.

 Walking Guidelines

  • Maintain silence for your reflection and that of others.
  • Take some time before you walk to clear your mind and become aware of your breathing.
  • Allow yourself to find the pace your body wants to go. As you meet other walkers, gently give way to your meeting and passing.
  • Be aware of your process and feeling and know that you are sharing this with others. Remember, all things on your walk will instruct. Your walk is uniquely yours.
  • Take time after your walk to reflect and meditate. Repeat the path, if you wish, perhaps at another time of day.

The information on this page comes from materials about walking labyrinths at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian church, St. Stephen’s Church in Philadelphia, and Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

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