Local church welcomes public to walk labyrinth

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

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.