|Yeah, you glow, David.|
The labyrinth itself looks pretty cool. It is a circular design with a winding path that appears to be sectioned into four different parts. According to the pamphlet, the four sections dually represent the four gospels and the four stages of the liturgy. In the center is a clover-like shape with 6 "leaves" which is the end of the weaving paths encircling it.
|Here's a picture for all you visual learners.|
It's pretty neat-looking... AND it's symbolic! The whole thing is meant to represent a journey. One could find a labyrinth such as this outside one of the famous Cathedrals and popular pilgrimage destinations in Medieval Europe. Many an early Christian pilgrim would travel to one of the beautiful gothic Cathedrals and end their journey by walking the labyrinth. Many of these men and women had the desire to make a pilgrimage to the Holy City of Jerusalem, but simply couldn't. So, as a substitute, they would journey this winding path to the open space in the center, which actually represented Jerusalem. I can imagine that this made the voyage of walking the labyrinth a very holy and inspirational one.
Even though there is not the same drive to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for everyone nowadays, many people still walk labyrinths built by churches everywhere. It is used as a time of contemplation and spiritual connectedness to God. One model of walking the labyrinth, according to my handy dandy pamphlet is the "classical three-fold spiritual path:"*
Purgation: Walking in, emptying, or letting go.
Illumination: Time in the center, clarity, insight
Union: Walking out, initiative, integration, and action in the world.
While walking the path, it is recommended that you remove your shoes and walk barefoot to enhance the experience and help you focus. It is really up to the individual how you wish to walk through the labyrinth. Everybody has different experiences. Walking through the path, you might want to focus on one question you have for God specifically. Maybe you just want to be silent and feel His divine presence. Maybe you want to offer up petitions or honor a significant occasion like a anniversary or something of that sort. Some people repeat a mantra over and over again, bringing in their thoughts completely to Christ. It doesn't matter if you walk it, dance it, run it, do a walking handstand through it, etc. It's all good. The whole point is to take some time out of your busy, busy life and focus on God for a bit on sacred ground. It can be quite a rewarding experience (or so I hear).
Maybe this whole thing just seems a little crazy to you. Maybe you are thinking to yourself, "I don't need a stupid labyrinth to spend time in meditation with God." Well, okay then. Good for you. But I think that I do, and I'm probably not alone. What better way could I find to spend time with God than to go outside and focus in on Him as I walk through a beautiful and historically significant and symbolic design on the pavement outside of my very own campus church? I don't know how you feel about it, but personally I'm pretty stoked to try it out. If they keep popping up on church properties everywhere I go, they must be at least worth a shot! And if you know of a labyrinth somewhere near you, I would highly recommend that you check it out too! Just walk and think. Let God place thoughts in your mind. You never know what you might hear if you just spend some time actually listening!
*Word for word from pamphlet published by the St. Andrew Catholic Community in Boulder City, NV