“…your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk it.”
What a spiritual blessing; having a Labyrinth right in our own backyard.
Otto Zingg, retired Presbyterian Pastor, campus minister, retreat leader and spiritual director, guided a group in our Village Community through the history and special features of the Labyrinth that was built in Tranquility Park located at the heart of Bristol Village.
Our Labyrinth was dedicated to the memory of Rev. Frederick C. Michelson, September 2009. Design of this project mirrored the oldest and most famous Labyrinth at the cathedral of Chartres in France. The most significant aspect of this design would be the 11 concentric rings split into four parts, a path which leads from the outside to the inside and passes once over every track, and a picture or an inscription. This makes it the largest church labyrinth ever constructed during the middle ages. Due to our lack of space in the Park, the Bristol Village Labyrinth includes five concentric rings.
What is a Labyrinth?
A Labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering, but purposeful path. The Labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.
Remember, a labyrinth has only one path. It is unicursal. The way in is the way out. There are no blind alleys. The path leads you on a circuitous path to the center and out again.
We are all on the path … exactly where we need to be. The labyrinth is a model of that path.
Unlike a maze, designed to confuse, a labyrinth has no dead ends, or even choices. The path, though not obvious in all its twists and turns, leads only to the center.
Moving along a ritual pathway with a set center — and no way to get lost, despite the complexities — is an expression of trust in divine order. It has been reflected, “A labyrinth takes you out of time … It is one big pause button.”
How do I walk the Labyrinth?
There is no right way to walk a labyrinth.
If several persons walk a labyrinth together, they may pass one another, going in either the same direction or opposite to each other. They may pass in meditative silence or quietly salute each other by a nod of the head or a raising of the hands. The effect of meeting fellow pilgrims on the path is part of the “labyrinthine” experience. The labyrinth is a joyfully sacred space. You do not need to be somber around it, but if someone is walking the labyrinth, it is courteous to respect the need they may have for quiet concentration.
As you enter the labyrinth, you may focus your thoughts on a question or concern. You may walk the labyrinth with a quiet mind, sensing without particularizing the wonder of the pattern. Or you may walk it with some of its many symbolic meanings held in your mind as seed thoughts. In the labyrinth, as in life, there is no single right way to follow the path.
Seekers use the Labyrinth in many ways:
1. Healing. It has been observed that some using the labyrinth do so for psycho-spiritual healing. Often, it has been observed, as a sense of forgiveness and openness to God coming.
2. Self-knowledge. Through “shadow” work or deep spiritual work, the labyrinth can help us discover where we are in our spiritual lives, such as judgmental thoughts, critical or self-critical thoughts, and an inability to finish things.
3. Co-creation. To our “soul assignment” we may ask such questions as “What am I here for?” or “How will I manifest my gifts?”
4. The labyrinth is a friend on occasions of being birthed into something new, such as birthdays, anniversaries, times of transition, or anniversaries of death or loss.
Truly, the labyrinth at Bristol Village is beckoning to give us that spiritual center we search for throughout our lives. I have walked the labyrinth many times. And many times I walk in with a concern, and walk out with a solution.
These words are etched on the dedication plaque to accompany us on our labyrinth journey:
“This Labyrinth is handicap accessible. Reflect on your problems of today. Follow the path at your own pace. Listen to your inner self. Find your peace at the center. Begin the Journey outward. Before leaving, pause and give thanks.”