Over ten years ago, through the vision, hard work, and generosity of GPC member Marcia Ritter, many members of our congregation began the prayerful practice of walking the labyrinth. We learned a new and powerful way of experiencing the grace of God that remains with us and sustains us in all the twists and turns on our journeys of life and faith.
Today, through the continuing efforts of the Education Committee, we continue to provide opportunities for our congregation to walk and pray the labyrinth.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the labyrinth, here’s an overview…
A Brief History of Labyrinths
Used for thousands of years, labyrinths are present in almost every religious tradition and culture. Labyrinths have been a part of the Christian experience from as early as the fourth century. In the twelfth century they became prominent in the great cathedrals of Europe. Medieval Christians walked labyrinths as an alternative to taking a hazardous pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Recently, Christians have enjoyed a renewed interest in labyrinths as modern “pilgrims” on our own spiritual journeys. The labyrinth has again become a spiritual tool to encourage prayer, contemplation, meditation, and spiritual growth.
Labyrinths are not mazes. Labyrinths have one path, the way in is also the way out. There is no possibility of going astray, finding a dead end, or getting lost on a labyrinth.
We do not walk a labyrinth alone. Others may join us along the way. We learn to make space for one another on the labyrinth. Like a pilgrimage, walking a labyrinth can be a very private inward journey that is shared with others on their own journeys.
The Glenshaw Presbyterian Labyrinth
Our labyrinth is called a “Chartres Essence”, and is closely based on the most well known labyrinth which still can be seen and walked in the Chartres Cathedral in France. The Chartres Essence is a round, 7 circuit labyrinth (you cross seven paths if you walk directly from edge to center) and has 84 lunations (notches on the outer edge) which symbolize 3 lunar cycles, representing the passing of time. (The Classic Chartres has 11 circuits and 112 lunations.) This smaller size allows GPC to easily store and set up the labyrinth in various places throughout the church. However, our labyrinth has a center the same size as a full sized Chartres, allowing it to serve a larger number of people in the center at the same time. The center represents the presence of God, or God’s eternity. Our Chartres Essence Labyrinth was constructed and hand painted in early 2011 by Labyrinth Enterprises of St. Louis, Missouri.
For an introduction to walking the labyrinth, just stop by the church one of the days the labyrinth is available. There will be information on the table to guide your experience.