(From the July 2008 "Creekside Connection" newsletter.)
by Rosanna McFadden

A labyrinth is a way to take a journey without leaving home. It represents the journey of life and our spiritual journey. It is not a journey that takes us in a straight line: we move toward a goal, then away from it, and when we finally reach it, there is more beyond.

A labyrinth is different than a maze. A maze offers a choice of paths, dead ends, and false leads. You can get lost in a maze -- it is a puzzle to be solved by your left brain. A labyrinth has a single winding path which leads to the center; then you turn and retrace the path to walk out. Even though it is full of twists and turns, it’s not possible to get lost. A labyrinth engages the creative, imaginative right brain. It is meant to be calming and meditative, rather than frustrating.

Labyrinths date back at least 3,500 years, and have appeared on most inhabited continents in pre-history, including America. Labyrinths and their simpler forms of circles and spirals appear in the Hopi and Navajo tribes of the America Southwest, and with the Pima Indians of South America. The most famous existing labyrinth is on the floor of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Chartes, outside of Paris. It was built of honey-colored limestone bordered with marble around the year 1200 as a way for people who couldn’t go to the Holy Land to make a Christian pilgrimage.

Labyrinths can be used at any time, as a regular meditative practice, or for a specific purpose, such as praying for healing, praying for guidance in a life transition, or bringing a question to God. Churches and retreat centers which have labyrinths often highlight their use during Holy Week, and may have a labyrinth lit by candles for people to use following a Maundy Thursday or Good Friday service.

Labyrinths can be made of brick, stone, gravel, wood chips, dug into beach sand, or mown into grass. They can be painted on a floor or parking lot. There are even hand-held labyrinths designed to be “walked” with a finger tip or traced with a stylus. These can be printed on paper or fabric, or engraved into wood.

The Creekside Labyrinth is built in the Classic design with seven circuits. The grass paths are lined with recycled brick and concrete pavers. The Youth, their leaders, and other volunteers marked the pattern in the grass, dug out the trenches, put down a layer of limestone gravel, and placed the bricks and pavers. There is a geode dug into the grass to mark the entrance to the labyrinth, next to the shape of the cross. There is a stone at the center where you can sit, rest, and think about the inward journey before you turn and retrace your steps outward.

The location of this labyrinth gives it several special features. You may want to think of how these relate to your spiritual journey: the journey through the labyrinth takes you uphill and downhill, through sunlight and shadow. You can view the beauty of the garden, but you will have to turn your back on it, as well. It’s a journey which happens in any season. Weather permitting, you may want to take off your shoes when you walk the labyrinth in order to feel the texture of the grass, the connection with nature, and the presence of God below you to uphold you, as well as before you, behind you, and above you.

Betty Kelsey has created a brochure with information and suggestions which is in the plastic box mounted on the garden arbor; it is available to anyone who wants to use the labyrinth at Creekside. You may take one home, if you wish. The labyrinth is open to anyone at any time. If you haven’t walked through the labyrinth, I hope you’ll find an opportunity to do so. It is a wonderful resource and a ministry which has already brought some visitors to our church property.

Creekside Labyrinth
Creekside Prayer Garden



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