The Labyrinth Project
St. Gabrielites have created this first phase of a simple Labyrinth in hopes that visitors and the community will use this space as a prayerful, healing and reflective space. It is our hope through donations and awareness we will one day make the labyrinth a more permanent space for all who wish to walk with God.
The labyrinth is a model or metaphor for life. The Christian life is often described as a pilgrimage or journey with God, a journey in which we can grow closer in relationship with God, and in turn, closer to others. In life, as in the labyrinth, we don’t know where the path will take us. We don’t foresee the twists and turns that the future holds, but we know that the path will eventually arrive at the center, God. Sometimes the path leads inward toward the ultimate goal, only to lead outward again. We meet others along the path—some we meet face-to-face stepping aside to let them pass; some catch up to us and pass us from behind; others we pass along the way. At the center we rest, watch others, pray. Sometimes we stay at the center a long time; other times we leave quickly.
Ways to use the labyrinth:
1. Ask God a question upon entering and then listen for an answer. For example: Ask God what he wants to tell you and listen for an answer.
2. Pray for yourself on the way in, stop to experience God’s love in the center, and pray for others on the way out (or vice versa).
3. Recite the Lord’s Prayer as you walk. (Instead, you may recite some familiar scripture. Repeat it as you walk.)
4. As you move toward the center of the labyrinth, focus on letting go of distractions or worries that keep you from God. In the center, spend time reflecting on your relationship with God. Be aware of God’s presence. Then, as you leave spend time giving thanks and praising God for all that he has done.
5. As you move toward the center of the labyrinth, focus on letting go of distractions or worries that keep you from God. In the center, spend time reflecting on your relationship with God. Be aware of God’s presence. Then, you will sense the need to move out into the world again. As you leave, walk with Jesus back into the places of ordinary life.
Why might God be inviting you into a time of prayer and quiet? Based on God’s invitation, how might you use the labyrinth to pray? Choose an option above that best fits where you are being led. Before beginning to walk the labyrinth, ask God to protect and guide you during this time of prayer. In your own way, dedicate this time to God.
Please share your feedback about the St. Gabriel's Labyrinth!
LEARN ABOUT LABYRINTHS
What's the major difference between a maze and a labyrinth?
A labyrinth only has one path that winds around. Labyrinths are thousands of years older than mazes and although historians and anthropologists debate their original purpose, most cultures share the same basic design and layout for labyrinths. The first recognizable labyrinths date to 2500 BC, though some historians say that cave drawings in Australia and Greece, of spirals and labyrinthine structures, predate that time by 1000 years or so. (funtrivia.com)
A labyrinth is a combination of what two shapes?
Circle and spiral. The earliest recognizable pictures of labyrinths appear on caves in Sardinia dated to 2500 BC. Older spirals that hint of labyrinths appear in Australian aboriginal pictographs and in caves in the American southwest. (fun trivia.com)
Oddly, cultures around the world separated by thousands of miles of oceans and land have all independently designed labyrinths that have how many circuits?
Seven. This seven-circuit labyrinth appears in drawings and ruins in cultures as widely disparate as Hopi Indian, Welsh, Hindu Indian, and ancient Greek. There are turf-type labyrinths in Welsh ruins and hillsides, while Greek temples circa 1000 BC show labyrinths as part of cult worship rituals. (fun trivia.com)
In general, labyrinth walking is said to benefit participants by allowing a temporary suspension of so-called left-brain activity—logical thought, analysis, and fact-based planning—and encourage the emergence of the intuition and imaginative creativity associated with the right brain. To enter a labyrinth is to choose to walk a spiritual path.
In addition, labyrinth walking puts you in touch with simple body rhythms. Because labyrinth walking involves physical movement, participants may find themselves becoming more mindful of their breathing patterns, the repetition of their footfalls, and the reorientation of the entire body that occurs as they move through the circular turns within the labyrinth. More particularly, the overall pattern of movement in labyrinth walking—first inward toward the center of the labyrinth and then outward on the return path—holds deep symbolic meaning for many people.
Specific benefits that some people have experienced as a result of labyrinth walking include:
answers to, or insights, personal problems or circumstances
a general sense of inner peace or calm
emotional healing from past abuse or other traumas
a sense of CONNECTION TO, or unity with, past generations of pilgrims or family ancestors
reawakened interest in their specific religious tradition
greater awareness of their own feminine nature or the feminine principle in nature, often associated with circular shapes and patterns
stimulation of their imagination and creative powers
improved ability to manage chronic pain
faster healing following an injury or surgical procedure
Labyrinth Construction And Design
Contemporary labyrinths are constructed from a wide variety of materials in outdoor as well as indoor settings. In addition to being made from canvas, mosaic flooring, or paving stones, labyrinths have been woven into patterned carpets, outlined with stones, bricks, or hedgerows, or carved into firmly packed earth. Most modern labyrinths range between 40 and 80 feet in diameter, although larger ones have also been made.
One classification scheme categorizes labyrinths as either left- or right-handed, according to the direction of the first turn to be made after entering the labyrinth.The entrance to the labyrinth is known as the mouth, and the walkway itself is called the path. Classical labyrinths are defined as having a simple path with an equal number of turns and counter-turns. Labyrinths are also classified by the number of circuits in their design, a circuit being one of the circles or rings surrounding the center of the labyrinth. The labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral, for example, is a classical eleven-circuit labyrinth. Three- and seven-circuit classical labyrinths have been constructed in many parts of the United States, while one labyrinth in Denmark has 15 circuits.
Walking The Labyrinth
The actual procedure of labyrinth walking is divided into three phases or stages:the journey inward, a pause for prayer or meditation at the center, and the return journey. There are no rules or guidelines for the pace or speed of labyrinth walking, although participants are asked to be respectful of others who may prefer a slower pace, and to move around them as gently as possible. Some people choose to dance, run, crawl on their hands and knees, or walk backwards in the labyrinth. With regard to pausing in the center of the labyrinth, people's behavior varies depending on the size of the labyrinth. Labyrinths based on the Chartres model have six "petals" or semicircular spaces surrounding the center, which allows several people to remain for a few minutes to pray, contemplate, or meditate. Smaller labyrinths may have room for only one person at a time in the center, and it is considered courteous to remain there only briefly.
Labyrinth walking can be incorporated into such ritual events as weddings, funerals, and anniversary celebrations, or such personal events as completing one's schooling, taking a new job, or moving to a new area. Some published guides to labyrinth walking include meditations to be used for labyrinth walking during pregnancy , or for blessing ceremonies at different seasons of the year.
Although one need not be a member of any specific faith or religious tradition to participate in labyrinth walking, spiritual preparation is considered an important part of the activity. Although the walk itself is informal and relatively unstructured, most participants find that a period of quietness to focus their attention on their journey is essential. Some also recommend clarifying one's intention for the walk beforehand; that is, participants should ask themselves whether they are seeking spiritual guidance, healing, closer fellowship with God, discernment, blessing, or the fulfillment of some other purpose. The use of prayers or mantras is suggested as a way to calm and "center" one's spirit at the beginning of and during the walk.
Participants are advised to wear comfortable shoes and clothing for labyrinth walking so that they will not be distracted by physical discomfort or concerns about their appearance. They will be asked to remove their shoes, however, if the labyrinth is made of canvas or woven into a rug; thus it is a good idea to bring along a pair of clean cotton socks or soft-soled slippers.
There are no special precautions needed for labyrinth walking other than allowing sufficient time for the experience. Most people find that the walk takes about 45 minutes or an hour, but some take two to three hours to complete their journey. It is best to plan a labyrinth walk for a day or evening without a tight time schedule.