The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd began its annual Labyrinth Walk on Sunday. The church invites residents to meditate, reflect and pray for healing in your life, the lives of others and the community while walking throughout the labyrinth. The labyrinth holds an ancient meaning as a prompt for prayer. The winding path leads to the center, this serves as a mirror to reflect the movement of the Spirit in ones life. The labyrinth will be available to walk from 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 9, Nov. 6 and Dec. 4. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 11:24 AM
On Sunday, the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd welcomed the public to walk its labyrinth for its 10th anniversary celebration.
The church’s canvas labyrinth, measuring 40 feet in diameter, is the same design as found worldwide.
“Our labyrinth is a replica of the labyrinth laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France in the early 1200s,” said Martha Whelan, who is the leader of the church’s labyrinth efforts. “The history is not written about why this labyrinth was placed on the floor, but it is believed that for medieval Christians, the labyrinth was a symbolic pilgrimage: instead of taking a costly and dangerous pilgrimage to Jerusalem, worshipers made a symbolic journey on a cathedral labyrinth.”
Today, the labyrinth is an ancient tool for individual prayer, she said.
“It is important to me because in our very hectic lives it’s hard for many of us to quiet down and to pray in a non-church setting where we are not in a church service,” Whelan said. “We are all so busy with great intentions and sometimes we just don’t find the time to pray. This is a wonderful way to come for a couple of hours, have a peaceful setting with beautiful music, where you can spend time with God and walk as you spend time.”
The setting, which takes place in the church’s gym, is conducive to reading and writing.
“We have scripture all around and written prayers that you can walk with,” Whelan said. “It is a way to calm down and to make empty space within us to receive what God has to tell us.”
There is one path to the center of the labyrinth and one path back out.
“It is the same path. It is not designed to trick you or to make you lost, but you can get turned around,” she said. “We can use the walk and the path of the labyrinth as a metaphor for life or for our spiritual journey. In our spiritual journey and our walk of faith we often get turned around or get lost. If you notice in the labyrinth some of the paths are very long and without curves and at other times the path curves with switchbacks. Isn’t that how life is?”
In life, sometimes things are going very smoothly and easily, she said, while other times one may go back and forth — undecided about what to do.
“It seems like we twist and turn, so we can use the walk of the labyrinth as a metaphor for the spiritual journey,” she said.
Whelan said most people pray throughout the entire walk, but one way to do it is in three stages.
“When we walk on the labyrinth to the center — that’s the stage of releasing and letting go,” she said. “The next stage, when you reach the center, would be where we receive — open to hear what God has to say. People will stay in the middle for as long as they want. The third stage is when you walk back out and return to the world or when we are in union with God. After you’ve spent a lot of time with God and you feel in union with God.”
The labyrinth will be available again to the public from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9. For more information contact Whelan at 494-0825.