I learned a lot about labyrinths on this retreat. The simplest labyrinthine shape is a spiral and this design occurs in all early cultures worldwide and also in nature. Medieval cathedrals had labyrinths to signify a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. This was the time of the Crusades and the people who could not afford to actually go to the Holy Land, walked the labyrinth. You follow a set path to the center and the same path out. En route to and from the center you can stop to meditate, recite scripture, or just commune silently with God. You do the same when you get to the center.The center can mean whatever you need spiritually at the time, be it health, prosperity, or guidance in life. The labyrinth that we were walking had many twists and turns in it. For me they represented the obstacles we encounter in our spiritual journey through life.
On the second day of the retreat, I got up early at 7:00 am to walk the labyrinth with other participants. It was by the river, a beautiful setting! The leader first showed us how to use body and hand movements with music, but then we walked the labyrinth with no music, just God’s symphony, the sounds of nature! It was so peaceful! There were lots of birds singing and a woodpecker hammering. I also envisioned the tall oak trees with Spanish moss as the vault of a cathedral. While walking, there was one step where the sun shone right on my face, so hot with healing energy! I thought of the healing scripture Malachi 4:2, “The sun of righteousness rises with healing in its wings.” When I started walking, I recited healing scriptures and added the hand movements, pushing away negative forces and pulling in positive forces. I thought, “I can do this at home on my Bridge of Promises.” At 11:00 the whole retreat group returned to the labyrinth and walked it as a community. As the labyrinth twisted and turned on itself, we had to be careful not to bump into each other. I did not fall nor did I knock anyone else over! The sun was still warm on my face at the same point, and I felt the temperature difference between the sun and the shaded side of the labyrinth. The sunny side was healing and invigorating and the shady side was cool and refreshing. The leader played piano music and also had some hand chimes. She put a cloth with glass stones in the center and invited us to take one. They were hot, which I felt was comforting and healing. At one spot I felt a breeze. I held my arms out to embrace it, but quickly pulled them in! Remember, I had to be careful not to knock anyone else down. Walking the labyrinth as a community is a little bit different than walking it alone! We must respect each other’s space! I felt very peaceful and calm after I came out of the labyrinth. Not surprising, as I had been communing with God!
We all got a beautiful hand-held clay labyrinth to keep. I will keep mine on my porch so I can use it outside in my garden. Since it is made of clay, I think of it as being connected to the rock garden. I can also envision a modified rectangular labyrinth in my garden. To make the walking path, Al put two rows of 18-inch pavers around the edge of the garden. I can walk the outer pavers of the walkway as one circuit, then the inner pavers, then the rocks, and end up in the middle, where the swing is. Also, my Mom, who is in Heaven, had cowbells on the door to her porch. I still have them and can use them as chimes in my modified labyrinth.There are obstacles in my labyrinth, too! I have to go up and down the wooden deck and around the artificial pool!
Pictures show my clay spiral labyrinth nestled among my lavender heather, my pewter labyrinth with twists and turns (a copy of the one in Chartres Cathedral and the one we walked at the retreat), and my backyard rock scape that I can now use as a rectangular labyrinth.