November 1-30, 2023 | 5-8 p.m. | Pusey House Gardens
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”Psalm 119:105
What is a Labyrinth?
While a maze has several possible paths and distinct beginning and ending points, a labyrinth has one path and one entrance/exit. This concept is over 4,000 years old and has been used in different civilizations for a variety of purposes from mindfulness and spiritual practices to dance and creative environmental art. Dating back to 1200 BC, these ancient pathways have been used in cathedrals all around the world and are reminders of the pilgrimage that symbolizes a person growing in faith and becoming closer to God. Perhaps the most famous labyrinth in existence today is located on the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in Paris, France. Modern churches utilize this tool during Advent and Lent to express devotion and show repentance. Labyrinths are also made from a variety of different materials including stone, brick, marble, and canvas that are able to be used inside and are portable. The use of lights in this labyrinth adds an additional sensory element to the temporary space and serves as a light by which to see and perhaps a light to illumine our souls. Today, research is being done to see if the ancient practice of walking a labyrinth can show marked differences from a psychological perspective. This is referred to as “labyrinth effects.” It is our hope that through the use of this labyrinth, many people in our area will be able to experience a different way to connect and grow closer to God, continue their walk on the journey of faith, and join others in an ancient spiritual practice.
How do I use this Lighted Labyrinth?
Before you walk into the labyrinth, take a moment to quiet your mind and your soul as you prepare to embrace this journey. You may choose to use a breath prayer as you walk. (Breath prayers are short phrases that can be easily repeated and help you focus on God and center yourself, recalling the purpose of your walk. Samples of breath prayers could be “Hear me, Lord,” “You are my light,” “Still me,” or “Guide me.”) As you walk slowly through the path on the journey towards the middle, the goal is to try and acknowledge the world around you while moving closer towards the center and increasingly focusing on your relationship with God. We recommend you do the following to bring focus to your journey:
- Hear the rustling trees and nature around you.
- See the lights of the path and feel the rocks under your feet.
- Use the inward journey to talk with God and confess what is on your heart.
- You may want to worship God as you move inward to the center.
- Release the things of the world that are weighing you down while repeating your breath prayer.
When you reach the center of the labyrinth, take a few moments in the stillness of this place. Use this time to pour out your innermost thoughts to God and to be in His presence. You may want to ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit and also take time to listen to what God wants to say to you in that moment.
As you begin to exit the labyrinth, thank God for accompanying you on this journey into the world. With each step, remember that God will continue to be with you and you do not walk alone. Take slow steps and allow yourself to relish this time with God before you exit the labyrinth and re-enter the world. At this point, we recommend the following:
- Offer prayers of thanksgiving and praise.
- Focus on the present and not the past.
- Enjoy the quiet of the surroundings and find peace in the moment.
- You may want to intercede and pray for others as you move towards the end.
- Prepare your heart to continue on a new pathway in the world as you repeat your breath prayer.
At the end of the labyrinth before you step out of the circle, take a moment to repeat your breath prayer, say the Lord’s Prayer, or voice your own prayer to God, the Alpha and the Omega, the one that goes before and behind us all on this journey of life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What if someone else is using the labyrinth?
A. More than one person can be on the labyrinth path at a time. If you encounter someone on the path, you may wish to step to the side and allow the other person to pass by before you re-center and continue. It is a good reminder that we are all on this journey and at different stages!
Q. Why does it twist and turn?
A. The pathway has a number of twists and turns known as circuits. The more elaborate the labyrinth, the more circuits it will entail. This labyrinth has 3 circuits and is known as a classical layout (with a left-handed entrance).
Q. Who can use a labyrinth and are dogs allowed?
A. There are no age restrictions on this spiritual tool! Even the young may wish to crawl or hop along the path and that is okay! Please note, that the ground may be uneven as this is a natural labyrinth path. Please be careful and take your time with deliberate steps. We ask that you not bring a dog into the garden as the area is used for children at play during the daytime and in consideration of others who may have an allergy or aversion to large animals.
Thank you for taking the time to visit the Lighted Labyrinth. We would love to hear your feedback on this experiential formation tool. Please feel free to email Allison at email@example.com with your thoughts, impressions, or suggestions.
**Some of this material was adapted from information on labyrinths by The Labyrinth Society. Visit their site to learn more about labyrinths and to locate additional ones in the city of Richmond and around the world.