ST. STEPHEN'S COMMUNITY LABYRINTH
Walk. Cleanse. Illuminate.
For thousands of years, all around the world, human beings have created and walked labyrinths. We designed and built our labyrinth for the local community. Please feel free to come and walk the spiral path anytime to meditate, release burdens and open yourself to God’s illuminating presence in your life.
The Threefold Path
A traditional Christian use of the labyrinth involves three stages: purgation, illumination, and union.
1. Purgation. On the way to the center, walkers empty themselves of all concerns, distracting thoughts, and corrupting passions. Walking with palms down can symbolize and aid the release of such negative thoughts and emotions to the ground. This allows you to follow the direction Jesus gave to the scribes and Pharisees: "First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean." (Mt. 23:26)
2. Illumination. At the center, walkers wait for insight, clarity, or revelation. Here, they maintain a receptive, contemplative state. Again, the palms can assist the experience, but now they are turned upward to receive. The cup, having been emptied, can now be filled.
3. Union. On the path out, the walker considers how the center experience can be integrated into his or her life - how he or she might carry it into the world. With palms still upward, walkers seek the fulfillment of Paul's promise, "...anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him." (1 Cor 6:17) At the exit, they may turn to face the center and bring their palms together for a prayerful end to the walk.
Suggestions for Walking
There is no right way to walk a labyrinth. You only have to enter and follow the path. You may walk it with a quiet heart and receptive mind, open to whatever comes. You may walk it with a specific concern, brooding over some personal issue. You may walk it with a petition or intercession, or repeating a mantra. The labyrinth lends itself to many different kinds of prayer. It's good for play, too!
The labyrinth invites us to use our whole being -- body, mind, and spirit. Those who choose to use the labyrinth may find these suggestions helpful:
1. Focus. Pause at the entrance to collect yourself. Recall your purpose, if you have one. Acknowledge God with a bow, nod, or other gesture. Then enter.
2. Enter. Walk purposefully. If moved to stop, do - and wonder why. Pay attention to your interior life, as well as to your surroundings.
3. Dwell. When you reach the center, remain a while to recall your experience walking in.
4. Return. Walk back the way you came. At the exit, turn toward the center, bow, and/or say "Amen."
5. Reflect. Soon after, ponder your experience. Use a journal to try to articulate it, and to assist your memory of any revelations.