By The Rev. Eugene LeCouteur, Rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church
— Emmanuel Episcopal Church has installed a grass labyrinth in the former playground area behind the Parish House on Federal Street.
A labyrinth is an archetype pattern, usually in the form of a large circle, which has one path leading from the edge of the circle to its center and back out. Labyrinths were used in the Middle Ages to simulate the experience of making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, when making the actual pilgrimage was much too dangerous.
A labyrinth is not a maze, which has many choice points and many paths. In a labyrinth, there is only one way in, only one way out and there are no dead ends. It’s been said that you lose your way in a maze, and find your way in a labyrinth.
Church tradition generally holds that the power of a labyrinth comes from the act of walking it, not from the labyrinth itself. Labyrinths are widely seen as being a very effective means for promoting meditation and well-being. Walking can be a spiritual practice or simply an opportunity to calm the mind and enjoy peace, quiet and reflection. It is sometimes described walking the labyrinth as being a form of body prayer, or walking prayer, that helps lead them to God or the Divine.
The person walking begins at the entry point and follows the path to the center. As we slowly walk, we shed the worries and cares that distract us from God and our true self. At the center we pause. It is a time to allow God to speak to us or for us just to rest in the peace that passes all understanding.
When the time is right we begin our journey outward. Now we are integrating into ourself what we have felt or heard in the center of the labyrinth. Again, the journey is deliberate and mindful. As we leave the labyrinth we might feel peaceful, energized, contemplative, or yearning. This no wrong response to the experience.
Currently, the labyrinth is simply painted on the grass. As we use the labyrinth, we will look at ways of making it permanent and perhaps a gravel or brick walkway. But for now, just enjoy the deep grass.
We welcome you to walk the labyrinth at any time. Be at peace and be well.
To learn more about labyrinths, see these resources: