Sharon Garlough Brown on the mini-pilgrimage of walking the labyrinth

“To get you started on your sacred journey,” Katherine went on, “we’ll begin with a mini-pilgrimage. Have any of you walked a labyrinth before?” A few hands went up around the room. “The one you’ll be walking today is the same pattern as the thirteenth-century labyrinth on the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France.” She paused, looked intently at the group. “Now, I’ll be honest with you. Some Christians get nervous about labyrinths because they’re found in many cultural and spiritual traditions. After all, the circle and spiral are ancient symbols for wholeness and transformation, and some people claim that the labyrinth pattern itself is mystical.”

“Fabulous,” Charissa muttered.

“I don’t believe there’s anything inherently mystical about the labyrinth,” Katherine said. “Transformation and healing come as gifts from meeting with the living God–not from walking along a particular pattern or path. The labyrinth simply provides an opportunity for prayer. Remember, the intent of spiritual disciplines is to create space where we can encounter God–space where we can be deeply touched and changed by God’s extravagant love for us. In walking the labyrinth, we deliberately slow down to give God our prayerful attention. We ask the Holy Spirit to help us be fully present to the One who is always with us. We quiet ourselves so we can notice the stirrings of God and respond in love, faith, and obedience.”

Katherine picked up a stack of papers from her podium. “I’ll pass around handouts to your tables so you can read about the labyrinth in your groups. Then when you’re ready, head right out these exit doors and follow the path to the courtyard. Once you’ve finished walking and praying, come back inside, and we’ll share some reflections with one another, okay? And may you know God’s near presence as you walk together.”

Sharon Garlough Brown, Sensible Shoes, 43.

Sharon gives further explanation of this on the following page, as the handout by this fictional character, Katherine Rhodes, including a drawing of a labyrinth.

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