Walking the Labyrinth
Why do we have a labyrinth at Origins?
Our lives as Christians is a kind of pilgrimage. We are on a journey to the new Jerusalem. On this earth we are like strangers and exiles on the go. (Heb 11:13) On this journey, except for growing in our dependence on the grace of God, we also encounter obstacles and challenges.
The labyrinth is so designed that while walking we are sometimes close to the centre and other times further away from the centre. However, all the while we are journeying to the centre. This resembles our life as pilgrims. There are times when we feel close to God and times when we feel far from God. But all the while God is with us and drawing us to Himself.
A retreat centre is a special space of silence and solitude where people can experience an awareness of God . The Desert Fathers said silence is like a puddle next to the road. If the water isn’t disturbed for a while, two things happen:
- You can see the bottom.
- Heaven reflects.
In this space of silence, solitude and awareness, the labyrinth is a precious tool to help us calm the water of our life. While walking the labyrinth attentively we become aware of things at the bottom of our life and, journeying to the centre, heaven reflects.
The labyrinth did not originate in the church. It originated before Christ and was part of Greek mythology. In the middle ages the church adopted the labyrinth as symbolic of our life pilgrimage. Around the year 900 CE, the cross was superimposed on the labyrinth. In a sense the labyrinth was baptized! The most famous example of the “crossed” labyrinth is in the Chartres church in France. People who couldn’t go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, were encouraged to walk the labyrinth.