Thursday, April 5, 2012

Walking Labyrinths

It is Holy Week, a week that includes Good Friday and ends with Easter Sunday.
While normally I love tradition and ritual and the comfort of repetition with routine, I am in a state of flux right now. Nothing feels quite right anymore and I am allowing myself some options. This year I do not feel like focusing on remembering the torture, agony, and death associated with the Christian traditions. I see enough of that on the evening news!

Then I remembered the Labyrinth built by a local church, Grace Episcopal, a few years ago. It not only has a beautiful stone walk, but it incorporates a Biblical Garden.  The pastor there tries to include only old plants known during the time of Jesus; some  are  from lands Jesus walked. He has included a fig tree and an olive tree. Right now the garden is full of color and cheer, a testimony to spring, the season of rebirth. This positive scene sounded more soothing to me right now, and I paid a visit there during this Holy Week instead sitting inside a church.

A labyrinth is a walking meditation. While meditation usually means sitting still and experiencing spiritual reflection, a labyrinth reaches for the same state with movement. Built like a maze, a labyrinth isn’t full of tricky corners or dead ends. It is a slow path to the center and back out again. The center is marked by a petal shape with six sides. Hopefully, by the end of this circular walk, one finds a peaceful feeling, a spiritual space, or maybe the answer to some inner question. According to the book Walking a Scared Path by Dr. Lauren Artress, “Through the proportion, placement and position of stone, wood, and mortar—using a complementary system of numbers, angles, and design—the mind can find rest, comfort, and harmony.”

My friend has walked the labyrinth in New Harmony, Indiana. I have seen it and would love to go back to walk it someday. It differs in that its borders are not marked by stone but by neatly trimmed hedges. I do not have a great deal of experience with labyrinths, but I think they bear some investigation and further study.

What about you, have you walked labyrinths?


Rebecca said...

I sure HAVE (walked labyrinths). One is mowed out of a prairie-type field. Another's path is formed by bricks. A local church created an indoor one in their all-purpose room a few years ago and opened it to the public - maybe during Holy Week. They gave us earphones to listen to instructions, music and meditations at various stops along the way.

Isn't it an interesting experience?

...and I know what you mean about being in a state of flux lately. I think I'm in that state, too.

Linda O'Connell said...

Claudia, what a lovely way to contemplate and celebrate Holy week. I'm with you about the suffering and violence. This area, I'm sure, has a calming effect. I have never walked one but would like to. Thanks for sharing.

irishoma said...

Hi Claudia,
Lovely, lovely.
What a special way to remember this sacred time. I've walked outdoor Stations of the Cross before. Nothing like the beauty of nature to remind us of the beauty of our Creator.

Lynn said...

Claudia, looks like a beautiful place and what a better way to celebrate - with beauty and nature.