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A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness and has long been used as a meditation and prayer tool. It combines the imagery of a circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful spiritual path. It represents a journey to our center and back out into the world.
There are many ways to pray. Each world religion whether it be Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, or Buddhist has slightly different variations. However, there is a common core that unites all these traditions. The mind has to quiet, the heart hopefully opens, and we can all listen to and respond from the deepest innermost part of ourselves that knows wisdom. For many of us, the ability to quiet the mind and pray deeply from within eludes us. Our lives are too busy, too fragmented to sit quietly and pray. This is why walking the labyrinth in whatever form you choose has begun to catch people’s attention. Today, labyrinths are being created in many places such as hospitals, spas, schools, churches, cathedrals, parks, prisons, and playgrounds. When the religious wars, the cruses, came across Europe, it made traveling dangerous and only the very rich could travel. In an effort to provide a journey of faith for the pilgrims, the Vatican appointed seven pilgrimage cathedrals. Chartres Cathedral was a major pilgrimage site. By following the path, pilgrims could make a symbolic journey to Jerusalem, with the center of the labyrinth standing for their destination. Like all pilgrims we have a need to search, to understand ourselves in relation to the holy. Prayer or meditation in any form is always helpful. The labyrinth only has one path that takes you to the center. Labyrinth walkers exit and enter at the same point, and they can always see where they are going because the path is clearly marked on the ground. It represents a journey to our own center and back out into the world. The design of the labyrinth that we have is replicated from the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France. The labyrinth is not a maze. The purpose of a maze is to lose your way. The labyrinth is designed for you to find your way.
“Why does the labyrinth attract people? Because it is a tool to guide healing, deepen self-knowledge, and empower creativity. Walking the labyrinth clears the mind and gives insight into the spiritual journey. It urges action. It calms people in the throne of life transitions. It helps them see their lives in the context of a path, a pilgrimage. They realize that they are not human beings on a spiritual path but spiritual beings on a human path. To those of us who feel we have untapped gifts to offer, it stirs the creative fires within. To others who are in deep sorrow, the walk gives solace and peace. The experience is different for everyone because each of us brings different raw material to the labyrinth. We bring our unique hopes, dreams, history, and longings of the soul.” -Lauren Artress, Walking a Sacred Path
I invite you to walk this sacred form of mediation and give yourself a firsthand opportunity to experience the divine.
Aelish Nealon, The Labyrinth Project
Workshops and rental opportunities of the labyrinth are available. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call HAYC3 at (518)686-9050 for more information.