A labyrinth is a pattern, usually in the form of a large circle, with one path, beginning at the outer edge and leading into the center (and out again) through a winding pathway, just as we find in our lives. There are no dead ends as in a maze. It is the same path in as out, providing safety and peace. One is invited to release on the way in, to receive in the center, and to return, often with new insights or things to ponder. The labyrinth provides an opportunity to pray with one’s body, in essence, a prayer walk.
Throughout the centuries, labyrinths have been found in many cultures and are one of the oldest contemplative and transformational tools. In the ongoing search for life’s meaning, for comfort, for healing, for wisdom, for direction, people have turned to the labyrinth as a spiritual tool, a sacred place to meet God. They receive invaluable help with many life transitions as well as everyday issues of reducing stress, grieving loss, resolving sleep disorders, making decisions, connecting with creativity.
The North Carolina Conference owns two 24 foot canvas labyrinths. They are portable and available through the Media Center along with resources of books, hand labyrinths and handouts.
Three clergy from the North Carolina Conference have been trained by Lauren Artress, the internationally recognized founder of Veriditas and who uncovered the Chartres labyrinth in the 1990’s in France. Rev. Joan Purcell and Rev. Lib Campbell, both retired, and Rev. Judy Stephens all lead labyrinth walks and would gladly answer questions or lead introductions to the use of the labyrinth as a tool for prayer walks.
LABYRINTH LOCATIONS SOUGHT
The construction of outdoor labyrinths is increasing at United Methodist churches as seen in recent months St. Mark’s UMC in Raleigh and Saint Francis in Cary. A labyrinth will also be a part of the Columbarium planned for First UMC Cary. The Spiritual Life Committee is currently compiling a list of labyrinth sites at churches or other facilities such as Camp Chestnut Ridge outside Efland. If you have a labyrinth, please contact Laura Dallas in the Media Center and add it to the list that is being compiled.