The labyrinth at Village Church is painted on the hardwood floor of our Chapel and adds another dimension of prayerfulness to this treasured sacred space. It is an invitation to quiet the mind and open the heart, to allow our footsteps to carry us on this meandering and meditative path of prayer. We use the labyrinth for small worship services, healing circles, monthly open walks, Lenten and Advent programs, and other special occasions. Youth groups and Confirmation classes use it as a part of their programs, other church and community groups have come to walk together, and we even once had a wedding take place in its center.
A labyrinth is a geometric pattern with a well-defined pathway that winds its way to the center and back out again. It has an ancient history and can be found in many cultures around the world. Some labyrinths are small enough to trace with a finger; others are large enough to walk with a group. Church labyrinths, from medieval times to the present, have been used as spiritual tools, and a metaphor for the spiritual journey or pilgrimage.
In medieval times, the labyrinth made its way into the architecture and design of quite a few northern European cathedrals. One of the most famous is the labyrinth that is built into the floor of the nave of the vast 12th-century cathedral in Chartres, France. It is the oldest church labyrinth still remaining from that time, and the largest (42 feet in diameter), and it is the inspiration for our labyrinth here.
The Village Church labyrinth is 24 feet in diameter and retains the unique qualities of the Chartres labyrinth—specifically its rose petals that form the center, and the half-moon shaped “lunations” that edge the labyrinth. Renowned labyrinth builder Robert Ferre of Labyrinth Enterprises in St. Louis, MO, came to Village Church in August of 2003 to draw the pattern on our newly restored Chapel floor and to guide many volunteers from our church to paint it.
Walking the Labyrinth
Walking the labyrinth is as simple as, well, walking! There is no right way, no wrong way, just your way. You may find it helpful to take a moment to calm and center yourself before taking your first steps. Some like to take off their shoes before walking, but you do not need to. Enter the labyrinth and find your own pace, following the path. If you meet someone on the path coming the other way, simply turn slightly to allow one another to pass. You may enter the labyrinth without expectation, or you may begin with a specific prayer, question, or purpose in mind. Along the way, you might pay attention to your breath or repeat a prayer.
However you choose to walk the labyrinth, it is sometimes helpful to imagine it more as a journey than a destination. For example, you might ask yourself some of the following questions. What has drawn me here? What can I learn by paying attention to my breath, to my feet, to others around me here? What do the turns teach me today? The center of the labyrinth is a good place to pause and reflect, sitting or standing or kneeling, before retracing your steps in the path that now guides you out of the labyrinth.
If you would like to come and walk the labyrinth, alone or with a group, simply call the church at 781.235.1988 to let us know. Since the Chapel is used for many purposes, it’s a good idea to confirm its availability at a particular time.
Blessings to you on the Path!