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The Journey of Faith

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Your life’s journey, where is it taking you?  Have you visited the high places, where all seemed right with the world, that you wanted to shout it from the mountaintops?  Have you been to the low places, where your heart cried out in fear and desperation?  Have you simply been meandering along with no real direction?

Life and faith, they both provide a path that we must follow; a journey with ups and downs and experiences and failures.  It’s having trust that no matter what you may encounter along the way, the destination will well be worth it!

Prayer Labyrinth

A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness.  It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path.  The labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world.  Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.  The Prayer Labyrinth was adopted by the Church across Europe during medieval times, is often used as a means to meditate, pray, and connect with God in a higher spiritual way.  Numerous cathedrals in Europe have prayer labyrinths embedded into their floors, with the Cathedral of Chartres, having one of the most famous prayer labyrinths in the world.  Prayer labyrinths were often viewed and modeled as a spiritual pilgrimage for those who could not afford to travel to Jerusalem, the center of the world.

What is a Labyrinth?

It is a path of prayer, a walking meditation that can become a mirror of the soul.  A labyrinth is an archetype with which we can have a direct experience.  We can walk it.  It is a metaphor for life’s journey.  It is a symbol that creates a sacred space and place and takes us out of our ego to “that which is within”.  We are all on the path…exactly where we need to be.  The labyrinth is a model of that path.

What is the meaning of the Labyrinth?

The labyrinth was described to me as three rings, representing the trinity.  The outer circumference represents the Holy Spirit, reaching out encompassing all.  The inner-circle (or pathway) representing Jesus and His walk here on earth.  The central circle represents God, as being the center of the universe.

I was also told that the path has three stages: the inward journey, the center, and the outward journey.

  • The inward journey – is letting go of things that hinder our wholeness and inner approach to God.
  • The center – is a space for meditative prayer and peace.
  • The outward journey – is a relationship with ourselves, with others, and with the planet, seen in the light of our relationship with God.

I also see the labyrinth as a symbol of our walk with God.  Sometimes in our lives, things happen that cause us to stray from God and even turn our backs on Him, but there are other times when things occur that we see Him working in our lives and we quickly find ourselves walking right towards Him and are so close to Him.  The path of the labyrinth clearly displays these trials and times of joy as we meander our way through the path to the center and repeat that path as we make our way back to the outside.

Where can I find one?

Labyrinths can be found worldwide, but some are hidden gems among the hills and are difficult to find.  Doing a simple Google search for prayer labyrinths in your city, or state may provide you some results, but you can also check out many on-going events at The Labyrinth Society or use the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator.

What if I cannot find one located near me?

  • Prayer Labyrinth Jewelry:
    I have seen many different pieces over the years and even own a charm myself.  Mine is crafted after the famous Cathedral of Chartres.  I presented one of these to each of my staff members when I was Program Director at Spring Heights.  These can be worn as a reminder of our journey through faith, ever seeking the center, and communion with God.Picture
  • Finger Labyrinths:
    Many beautiful finger labyrinths of various designs have been crafted. You can even purchase many handmade designs from a variety of Etsy designers. These labyrinths typically sit on a table or on your lap as you trace your finger through the labyrinth’s path. It is a great tool to have at your disposal when you cannot make it or do not live close to a walking labyrinth.
  • Homemade Labyrinths:
    Want to make your own? You can create a finger labyrinth with resources you probably already have in your home.  Here you’ll find directions on how to create one.
  • Looking for a bigger project and developing your own walking Labyrinth?  Awesome!  Here are a few different resources to help you on your way:

How should I walk or use the Labyrinth?

Labyrinths are most often walked or traced as a form of meditation and inward, silent prayer.  Wear comfortable clothes and remove your shoes and socks, if possible.  Take a few deep breaths as you prepare to enter the labyrinth. Begin walking the path with slow steps.  Be ever conscious of your position in relation to the center.

As you make your way towards the center, inwardly lift up things that are a barrier to your relationship with God and hindering your wholeness.  Whatever those things may be, do not be afraid to let them go.  God will instruct you on how to move forward through your communion with Him.

As you approach the center of the labyrinth, pause for a few minutes or however long you wish in order to accept His peace.  You may sit or stand, whatever you are able and comfortable doing.  Here you may lift up praises and thanksgiving.

As you exit the center and begin your outward journey, reflect upon your relationship with yourself and who you are in Christ.  Take time to pray for relationships with others and your environment.  Pray for guidance as you make your way back out into the world that you may have the courage to share the Word, the love, and the grace of God with those around you.

Once you exit the labyrinth, step to the side and take a moment to thank God for communing with you.  Thank Him for the experience and for any wisdom that has been presented to you in your journey through the labyrinth.

Here is a great guide to prepare you for your first experience walking or using a prayer labyrinth. Developed by Lana Miller, the campus pastor at Eastern Mennonite University.

What can I expect from the experience?

My first experience walking a prayer labyrinth was back in 2007.  I was a church camp counselor at Spring Heights and the staff and older youth group were put to the task of building one in the large field on site.  I had a life-changing experience with that group that week within and walking the labyrinth was part of it.
Though it is situated to the side of a large field, it is pretty much in the center of camp, but somehow when we entered (barefoot to feel the damp grass from the early morning dew), we stepped onto Holy Ground.  The rest of the world faded away and I was walking a path talking inwardly to God.  On my way to the center, I told Him of my insecurities, my fears, my doubts, and the things that I hoped and prayed for.  I asked forgiveness for the wrongs in my life.  I spent time praying for every one of the youth in my group that week.  When I reached the central ring, I stood amongst the teens in a giant group hug.  No one spoke; instead, we listened.

On the way out of the center, I prayed for the week and months ahead.  I prayed for my group to be touched and changed by our time together; I prayed for the strength and the wisdom to convey His words clearly and that He will be evident in my life.  I also prayed that I may find a way to continue this ministry, working at the camp, even beyond the summer.

As we exited, we all sat around the circumference of the circle, still meditating and silently waiting for the others to complete the circuit.  I looked around and most of the teens were sniffling, sucking back tears from the experience they just had walking the labyrinth.  I wiped away my own tears as I looked out to the 16-foot cross at the end of the meadow.  This experience was more than simply walking a winding path amongst a pile of rocks and tree stumps in an open field, it was a reminder of how easy it is to commune with our heavenly Father.  We just need to take the time and do it.

Italicized text provided by Lisa Tappe

Have you ever walked or used a prayer labyrinth?  Where did you walk or purchase yours from? Comment below with your experience.  I’d love to hear from you!

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