The labyrinth at Evergreen Lutheran Church is on the north end of our property, located across from our outdoor worship space, Agape Chapel.
Brief History of Prayer Labyrinths
Prayer Labyrinths have been around for a long time. They are found in many cultures dating back as much as 3,500 years. Unlike a maze, the labyrinth is unicursal, having a single path leading to the center with no loops, cul-de-sacs or forks. The Prayer Labyrinth was adopted by the Christian Church across Europe during the medieval times, often used as a means to meditate, pray and connect with God in a different way. If you visit some of cathedrals in Europe you will find prayer labyrinths embedded into their floors. One of the most famous still in existence is the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France. One of the reasons why prayer labyrinths were so popular was the fact they were viewed as a journey to Jerusalem serving as a spiritual pilgrimage for those who could not travel to Jerusalem.
With the practice of walking the prayer labyrinth becoming popular again in contemporary Christianity, many Christian denominations from across the theological spectrum are again adopting the practice of walking the prayer labyrinth. The prayer labyrinth has one path on which one cannot get lost, serving as a powerful symbol of individual life journeys and pilgrimage in faith. A labyrinth is simply a place to walk and pray. The lines or boundaries (in our case, rocks) keep you on the path that leads you into the center, and then back out again. This gives you the freedom to focus on God – and not worry about getting lost.
Walking a Labyrinth
There is no “required way” to walk the labyrinth. The beauty of the labyrinth is that people can approach the experience on their own terms. However, as a guideline, we can break the ‘walk’ down into these stages:
1) Entering: (also referred to as shedding or purgation.) During this stage you walk the path toward the center, and should try to acquire a relaxed, peaceful state, temporarily release concerns and quiet the mind.
2) Illumination: The time in the center. This is a time of openness and peacefulness; you experience, learn, or receive what this unique moment offers. Take your time.
3) Union: The journey outward. You choose when to leave the center, following the same path. This is a time to review and consider what occurred in the center and how it may be applied in your life.
Other approaches to the walk may include:
• Intentional walks: where you address a specific intention, issue or concern as you walk.
• Intercessory walks: offer prayer for people or needs. Perhaps praying for a different person at each turn on the path.
• Meditative walks: meditate on a specific word or passage, or pray repetitively, such as the Jesus prayer (Lord have mercy…) or the universal prayer for world peace (Let peace Prevail on Earth!).