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.
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.
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.
You might think of your walk as having three parts, or stages:
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.
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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Swarthmore Presbyterian Church
727 Harvard Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081