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June 7, 2016, 9:47 AM

What Exactly is that Path Behind the Garage?


“Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.” -Psalm 25: 4  (NRSV)

As I was working with some members to freshen up our labyrinth behind the garage last week, I was asked a few questions about the labyrinth and its purpose.  So, if you have ever wanted to know more about it, here you go:

Labyrinths have been a part of human history for more than 4000 years. They can be found in almost every culture and every religious tradition around the world and are typically used as a tool for meditation and prayer.  Labyrinths are typically made of stone, grass, pavers, or shrubs laid out in a set geometric pattern. The first documented example available of labyrinth use within the Christian tradition is in 324 A.D. when Christians constructed a labyrinth on the floor of their church building in Algiers, North Africa. The most famous medieval labyrinth was created at Chartres Cathedral in France around 1200 A.D. when labyrinth prayer began to be seen as a substitute for making a pilgrimage to a holy site—especially the Holy Lands, which were under increasing attack by the Ottoman Empire at the time.  The Labyrinth itself is meant to symbolize a journey toward God, hence it is sometimes used during Lent as a reminder of our own “Lenten journeys”.

In walking a labyrinth, the individual is invited to leave behind the noise and hurry of life.  As you walk, the path moves you slowly toward the center and toward God.  At times you are closer to the center, but further along the path, you may also find yourself further from the center.  This represents the reality of any spiritual journey—it is filled with times of closeness and distance, but as long as you keep moving along the path, you are always getting closer to the center and to God, no matter how far away it looks in real space.  When you reach the center, you can stop and rest in the presence of God, and listening for direction before you begin your journey back into the world.

Not all labyrinths are the same shape or size, but a prayer labyrinth is never a maze.  You will not be confronted with a “fork in the road” that is intended to trick you into going the wrong way, because no matter which way you turn, no matter how far away the center appears, spiritual journeys remind us that God is always there.

If you have never walked our labyrinth, I encourage you to do so—it is a great way to pray for friends and family as you get a little exercise and remember that God is guiding you along the path of life.

With prayers for you all from the labyrinth,

-Pr. Nathan

               The labyrinth at Holy Spirit Lutheran Church - open for anyone to use!


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