THE OUTDOOR LABYRINTHS AT COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN
The Memorial Courtyard Labyrinth
The pavestone labyrinth in the front (east) courtyard, designed by Robert Ferré of Labyrinth Enterprises and installed in 2001, is a variation on the octagonal “Heart of
Amiens” pattern. This “personal” labyrinth measures twelve feet in diameter and consists of five circuits. “Circuit” is another word for the number of circles or rings that comprise a labyrinth, not including the center.
The Garden Labyrinth
Modeled after the famous labyrinth inlaid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral, the Garden Labyrinth was installed in 2002 by members of the Covenant congregation. The eleven
-circuit turf path, outlined in brick and measuring fifty-two feet in diameter, is centered on a live oak tree and features benches for prayer or meditation both in the center and
around the perimeter.
Portable Indoor Labyrinths
Arrangements to use one or more of five portable indoor Labyrinths may be made through the church office.
- 24’ Santa Rosa pattern
- 24’ modified Chartres pattern
- 24’ Classical pattern
- 20’ Santa Rosa ivy pattern
- 14’ circular rainbowcolors pattern.
If you would like more information about labyrinths in general or the Covenant labyrinths, or wish to make arrangements for a group walk, please call the church office
WALKING THE LABYRINTH AT COVENANT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
The labyrinth is often used as a spiritual tool for meditation and prayer. Walking the labyrinth may help make one available to God, and thus, to transformation and healing.
The labyrinth has only one path so there are no tricks to it and no dead ends. The path winds throughout and becomes 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 open heart; see inside for walking guidelines.
There are four stages of the walk:
Remember or Via Positiva (preparing to walk): count your blessings! All that we have, all that we are, is a blessing from the Divine.
Release / Purgation or Via Negativa (journeying in): an emptying, a releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. This is an act of shedding thoughts and emotions. It quiets and empties the mind.
Receive / Illumination or Via Creativa (the resting place): when you reach the center. Stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.
Return with Resolve / Union or Via Transformativa (journeying out): joining to God, your Higher Power, or the healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth, you open yourself to become more empowered to find and do the work you are called to do—the transformed person transforms the community.
GUIDELINES FOR THE WALK
There is no right or wrong way to walk the labyrinth!
- Clear your mind and become aware of your breath.
- If other walkers are present on the path with you, silence on your part may be courteous and hospitable.
- Allow yourself to find the pace your body wants to go: walk, skip, dance, or leap. Move at your own speed!
- Please feel free to laugh, cry, or sing if you are so moved, and if other walkers will not be unduly disturbed.
- When you reach the center, stay as long or as short a time as you need or want.
- Do what feels natural for you.
- Feel free to pass around others if you need to do so; passing is perfectly acceptable.
After your walk, you may wish to journal or use some other form of creative expression to process insights or emotions you experienced during the walk, or which occur to you later.
The material above and on the first page is adapted from Dr. Lauren Artress, Veriditas, The Voice of the Labyrinth Movement
Covenant Presbyterian Church welcomes all who wish to use the labyrinth as a tool for meditation and prayer.
Solvitur ambulando, it has been said. “It is solved by walking.” (Attributed to St. Augustine)
The distinguishing characteristic of a labyrinth is that there is only one path from entrance to center, with no decision-making required of the walker, in contrast to a maze, which requires one to make choices on the path which may be ‘wrong’ and lead to dead ends. Thus the labyrinth is “unicursal”—one path, as opposed to a maze, which is “multicursal,” with more than one path.
Labyrinths are found in many cultures, dating back several thousand years, and are often described by how many circuits or paths they contain, not counting the center. Their patterns are also often designated as classical (e.g., the seven-circuit path found on ancient Cretan coins; the Scandinavian/German Baltic Wheel); medieval (e.g., the eleven-circuit paths found at medieval cathedrals such as Chartres and Amiens); contemporary (e.g., the nine-circuit dual path Reflection Labyrinth), or a combination of the last two (e.g., the Santa Rosa and Circle of Peace patterns).
We do not know exactly how labyrinths were used in various cultures over time. While it has been widely published that Christians in the Middle Ages walked European medieval cathedral labyrinths as a form of “substitute pilgrimage,” there is currently no actual evidence or documentation for this supposition. Many modern walkers do, however, find the labyrinth a helpful tool for prayer or meditation, as it employs whole-body movement and may help one relax and quieten a “chattering” mind.
In the last dozen years of the twentieth century and continuing to the present day, labyrinths have experienced a phenomenal rediscovery and recovery of their uses in a wide variety of settings. Labyrinths in many sizes and patterns are now found in schools and universities, hospitals and healthcare centers, prisons, retreat centers and churches, public parks and spaces, recreation centers, private and public gardens and homes, and corporate settings; and portable canvas/nylon labyrinths greatly increase
accessibility. World Labyrinth Day is annually observed on the first Saturday in May. An ancient human archetype is new again!