Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Labyrinth Experience

One of the cool new areas at our newly renovated Church is in the Chapel there. A labyrinth has been painted on the floor.

Labyrinths are great tools for a prayer and/or a meditation time.
Labyrinths have been around for over 4000 years and are found in just about every major religious tradition in the world; such as Native American, Greek, Celtic and Mayan.
A labyrinth is not a maze or puzzle, a labyrinth has only one path. It is unicursal. The way in is the way out, and represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world.

The design for the one at our Church is based on the design of the labyrinth that is embedded in the stone pavement of Chartres Cathedral near Paris. The Middle Ages was a time of pilgrimages. Since most people could not make the grand pilgrimage to Jerusalem, considered by Christians to be the center of the world, and symbolizing the Kingdom of Heaven, they would make pilgrimages to important cathedrals such as Canterbury or Chartres and others. Once there, they would end their pilgrimage by walking the labyrinth to the center, and then slowly retracing their steps to regain the 'outside world' and return to their homes.

The Chartres labyrinth was sometimes walked, in place of, the actual pilgrimage to Jerusalem and considered a holy experience. People believed that if you walked the labyrinth with the full dedication of a pilgrim, you would be transformed, the old you will be grounded at the threshold stone a purified you emerging, ready to tackle new directions in your life's journey.

Tonight, during the Wed. Night Lenten Series, we had a friend, Tony Walter, come to tell us more about labyrinths, and various ways to use ours for a unique prayer experience.

We walked the labyrinth, but sometimes "walking" it involves stopping at various points to reflect or say a prayer, or just rest and listen. It was pretty cool!

We have all sorts of ideas for using it during our upcoming all night Prayer Vigil at the Altar of Repose on April 21st. It will be a visual and sensory experience since we also have all the flowers for Easter Sunday set up in the Chapel then too with candles and meditation music and more... can't wait to help decorate for that next week, and then experience it too!

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