The labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world. By walking our replica of the Chartres labyrinth (laid on the floor of Chartres Cathedral around 1201), you are rediscovering a long forgotten Christian tradition. The earliest labyrinth in a church that we know of is in the Cathedral of Reparatus in Algeria dating from about 328 AD.
The labyrinth has only one path, so there are no tricks and no dead ends. The choices are all internal: how fast to move, what thoughts to pay attention to, what prayers to pray.
The path winds throughout and becomes a metaphor for the pilgrim’s spiritual journey, a mirror for where we are in our lives. It touches our sorrows and releases our joys. So walk it with an open mind and an open heart.
Walking a labyrinth is a way to pray and meditate, just as kneeling, folding one’s hands, or bowing one’s head are ways to pray. In walking the labyrinth, we seek to know God’s presence in our lives.
Guidelines for the walk:
There is no right way or wrong way to walk a labyrinth.
Before walking, take time to get in touch with your intention for the walk. This could be simply to experience the experience; to continue with a discipline; to celebrate; crisis prayer; problem solving; to be in the present and not the past (or future) which traps you.
Clear your mind and become aware of your breath. Allow yourself to find the pace your body wants to go. The path is two-way: those going in will meet those going out. Do what feels natural when this happens.
Honor your intention; pay attention to your emotions. If another train of thought comes through, you might chose to follow that thought or remain focused on your original intent.
Spend as much time as you like in the center of the labyrinth, and exit by following the same path back out.
Some people use the labyrinth for “process meditation” and follow their thoughts and images. Others use it for “listening prayer”. Others use it for “quiet time”.
Often we do not completely grasp what happens in the space of a labyrinth walk. Pay attention to “AHA moments” that happen while washing dishes or other odd times in coming days and weeks, as well as to your dreams.
The St. David’s Labyrinth is available during regular church hours. (8:00 AM to 6:00 PM Monday through Friday and 8:00 AM to 8:30 PM on Sunday, and 9:00 AM to noon on most Saturdays.)