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The Takoma Park Presbyterian Church has purchased a labyrinth for use by our congregation and the surrounding community.
A labyrinth is a circular walking path used as a tool for prayer and meditation.
A labyrinth is not a maze -- there is one continuous path to walk which takes you from the outer edges into the center and back out again. Combining a number of even older symbols, including the circle, spiral and meander, the labyrinth represents the journey inward to our own true selves and back out into the everyday world.
Labyrinths are powerful ancient symbols found all over the world. They have been used by many faith traditions, dating back into at least the time of Greek mythology.
The labyrinth symbol was adapted by the Christian church as early as the fourth century. By medieval times the symbol evolved with the overlaying of the cross. This resulted in labyrinth designs with turns in all four quadrants. Labyrinths were incorporated into the floors of the great Gothic pilgrimage cathedrals of Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. They were particularly important for Easter rituals. Labyrinths came to symbolize the journey of faith, and may have served as proxy Holy Land pilgrimages. The most famous extant design is that at Notre Dame de Chartres outside of Paris, built in 1220, has a labyrinth in its floor, which has become the primary model for labyrinths in use today.
Grace Cathedral in San Francisco has a model of the Chartes labyrinth in its floor and the National Cathedral here in Washington also has a labyrinth ministry.
Labyrinth walking can help anyone who is going through a time of transition or decision making. Walking a labyrinth is a right brain task (creative, intuitive, imaginative), and can induce or enhance a contemplative or meditative state of mind. It can be a calming devise for quieting the mind in order to pray more deeply and a tool for self-discovery.
Thanks to Elder Francis Eargle and her work to get a grant for our congregation's worship enhancement, TPPC has purchased a portable canvas labyrinth. Ours is a smaller model of the Chartes design which can be used in our Assembly Room or either gym. We plan to provide at least monthly opportunities to walk this labyrinth, as well as educational workshops on using the labyrinth as a spiritual tool.
For more information about labyrinths, access the website of the Labyrinth Society at www.labyrinthsociety.org.
All photographs on this page appear courtesy of www.LabyrinthCompany.com. Vision Quest(tm) labyrinth design copyright 1997 The Labyrinth Company.