Secrets of the Labyrinth
Mysterious Ways|December/January 2021
I WAS AT THE ENTRY OF Battery Park’s Labyrinth of Contemplation in New York City. A winding pathway of rocks and grass stretched out before me. After studying labyrinths for weeks, I wanted to try one. I’d learned that these fantastical, circuitous pathways can act as prayer tools, helping calm the mind and soul. I sure needed that. Beyond this quiet park, the city had been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Though cases were down and things seemed to be improving, I still felt overwhelmed and uncertain about the future. Will I find the spiritual comfort I’m looking for? I wondered. Adjusting my face mask, I took a deep breath and began….
Kaylin Kaupish

A Brief History

Labyrinths have offered Christians spiritual solace since they emerged in churches in the twelfth century. After pilgrimages to Jerusalem and other locations in the Holy Land became too dangerous and costly, the people of medieval Europe needed a new way to take a spiritual journey, to work out the strife caused by fearsome wars and plagues. Labyrinths, such as the one on the floor of Chartres Cathedral (opposite), in France, became the answer.

A Prayer in Motion

The shape of the labyrinth makes it a mystical prayer tool. Like a formal prayer, a labyrinth has a distinct beginning and end. Its snaking, circuitous path leads toward a central point, then back out again. When you start a labyrinth, your awareness shifts to your steps; your outside thoughts and distractions fade away. The pathway serves as both a visual and a physical cue, helping you turn your attention inward, toward the prayer, challenge or emotion that you are working on. Walking a labyrinth at an easy, natural pace aligns your mental progression into deep prayer and meditation with the physical movement that mirrors it.

The Labyrinthian Journey

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