If you have ever taken a walk with an old friend and just chatted, you know how the labyrinth can feel.
The Labyrinth is NOT a maze. You will never get lost or have to back out of a dead end. When you were a kid, maybe you were lucky enough to walk at the county fair or in a department store at Christmas time holding on to a grownup’s hand. You didn’t have to navigate. You trusted your grownup to guide you, and that set you free to notice everything. A labyrinth is like that. You can walk with God and not get lost.
There are three parts to a labyrinth prayer. The way in, time in the center, and the way out. Like the Trinity, the parts are distinct, but hard it’s to separate where one begins and another ends. Calm your body and mind before you enter. Sing a hymn, recite a verse or just tell God what’s going on in your life on the way in. In the center pause and listen. On the way out give thanks or ponder what you have experienced.
The labyrinth has been a part of Christian prayer life for a very long time. The earliest known Christian labyrinth dates from the 4th century Basilica of St. Reparatus in Algeria. The most famous medieval labyrinth is in Chartres Cathedral in France. There are writings of French clerics performing a dance along the path on Easter Sunday. Doesn’t that make you smile just to think about it?
If you don’t live near a cathedral with a labyrinth, there are websites that tell the location of labyrinths around the world or in the US. Try the Veriditas labyrinth locator website to find labyrinths before you go on your next vacation.
Labyrinths can be created from stones or candles or even pumpkins. They can be laid in mosaic stone or painted on concrete. There are paver kits that are very beautiful. The Labyrinth Company has some to consider.
A finger labyrinth is usually made of wood with the pattern routered into it. Your finger does the walking here, gently following the path with eyes open or closed. There are double finger labyrinths too. Each hand following the path in mirror image with its mate. There is a wonderful left brain/right brain interaction with a double. Relax 4 Life is a good source for finger labyrinths. Children can roll marbles in the labyrinth. It is a charming way to introduce them to slowing down and spending time with God. There are even smaller, pocket sized labyrinths which can be traced with a stylus. Find some at the Episcopal Book Store.
Relax 4 Life has free patterns to print. These labyrinths can be followed with your finger (eyes open) or, they can be painted or colored with pencils or markers. Perhaps you would like to use a different color for each person or subject you want to talk to God about. Or maybe you would like to make circles or dots representing each footstep.