This morning on the Today show, there was a feature on labyrinths. If you’re curious, see it here. What’s a labyrinth? An ancient practice. A different way to pray. Meditation….while walking.
Yes, all of these. Labyrinths have been used in spiritual practice for a very long time. The earliest known example of Christian labyrinths is from the fourth century C.E. in Algeria. They then started to appear on church walls and floors early in the second millennium, coming into more common Christian use in France in the 1200’s. By far, the most famous labyrinth is at Chartres Cathedral, with the design shown here.
It is not a maze. There is only one path. It is not designed to sow confusion as a maze would. Rather, it is intended to foster peace. You might think of it as a walking meditation, or a spiritual journey.
This design, along with a few others, is used in many labyrinths worldwide. Grace Cathedral in San Francisco started a new interest in labyrinths when a labyrinth using this same pattern was built in the 1990’s. You can find the pattern much closer, though. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a replica was constructed in Audubon Park. It is near the “Tree of Life,” roughly where Laurel Street meets River Drive alongside the zoo (a map is here).
Grace Cathedral’s website has more information about labyrinths and how you might use them. Or just go to Audubon Park and start walking it there. Let us know what you think!