"I went to a beautiful meadow at the camp. My group leader suggested that I walk a labyrinth. And so I walked. I saw a rock on the ground that said 'Trust.' I kept walking and I saw a rock on the ground that said 'Be Brave.' I started sobbing as I walked. I started saying to myself, 'It is going to be all right now. It is going to be all right now.' I realized as I walked that this was related to my loss of my church life when I was a girl."The woman felt that things had been made whole that had been broken in her life and that God spoke to her through the rocks. I read that, but didn't pick up on "labyrinths" until Shirley left this comment today:
"I'd first heard of current day labyrinths by reading an article in a quilting magazine. They do sound like a good meditation place unless one would wind up with a fear of getting lost or falling (two things that I do far too frequently)."
Has anybuddy besides me ever walked a labyrinth? You can't get lost in modern-day labyrinths. Mazes are what you get lost in, not labyrinths, which have only one way to go. I first walked a labyrinth three years ago, one which was a few blocks from my home at the time. It was tiny, as you can see by these two photos I took for my blog post. I wanted to try it because I had read Barbara Brown Taylor's 2009 book An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith. Her experience was nothing like the one from our book (described at the top of this post). Here's her report from pages 57-58 in that book:
"The first thing I noticed was that I resented following a set path. where was the creativity in that? Why couldn't there be more than one way to go? The second thing I noticed was how much I wanted to step over the stones when they did not take me directly to the center. Who had time for all those switchbacks, with the destination so clearly in sight? The third thing I noticed was that reaching the center was no big deal. The view from there was essentially the same as the view from the start. My only prize was the heightened awareness of my own tiresome predictability.My experience was nothing like either of these women. The one I walked took maybe five minutes, because I hurried to finish before a man with a loud mower at the church got closer to the corner where the labyrinth is located. Read about it on my blog. (I need to go back to that chuch and try it again.)
"I thought about calling it a day and going over to pat the horses, but since I predictably follow the rules even while grousing about them, I turned around to find my way out of the labyrinth again. Since I had already been to the center, I was not focused on getting there anymore. Instead, I breathed in as much of the pine smell as I could, sucking in the smell of sun and warm stones along with it. When I breathed out again, I noticed how soft the pine needles were beneath my feet. I saw the small mementos left by those who had preceded me on the path: a cement frog, a rusted horseshoe, a stone freckled with shiny mica. I noticed how much more I notice when I am not preoccupied with getting somewhere."
This link shows several labyrinths, including the one shown here with all these school children. My favorite photo is the one at the top of this post, which shows a labyrinth I'd like to walk. It's the only one I found that goes around a tree, and I like the idea of a place in the center to sit and contemplate.
Chartres Cathedral in France. Try "walking" this photo with your fingers, entering from the top of the picture, and you'll see how it switches back and forth. This one below shows people walking in Chartres Cathedral, from Wikipedia, so you can see the size of it.
NOTE: See also what Bonnie wrote about Labyrinths on her book blog on October 20, 2012.