Background: When you walk the labyrinth, you are joining a rich mystical tradition. Labyrinths have been used in many cultures since ancient times and in Christian spirituality since the fourth century. Our labyrinth is modeled after the labyrinth in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France, laid around 1220. The labyrinth can be used as a walking meditation, a spiritual practice or simply an opportunity to calm the mind and enjoy peace, quiet and reflection.
How to walk the labyrinth: There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. Unlike a maze, there is just one path, so there are no choices to make. You walk along the path to the center and back out along the same path.
(Please remember that masks are required on St. Mary’s campus, and please try to maintain 6 feet of distance. If someone else is using the labyrinth, you may wish to pray elsewhere on campus and come back later).
Begin by centering yourself. Become aware of your breath and your footsteps and walk at whatever pace seems right to you. If you meet others on the path, you may pass them or simply step aside and then continue your walk. Many people find it helpful to think of three stages of a labyrinth walk:
Releasing – on the way in, let go of details and distractions. Quiet your heart and mind and just be.
Receiving – at the center, stay as long as you like, to meditate and pray. You may sit or stand. Open your heart and mind to receive what God is offering.
Returning – as you leave, following the same path out of the center as you came in, you may feel empowered to find and do the work for which you feel your soul is reaching. Offer your heart and mind as partners with God’s work in the world.
However you choose to walk, and for whatever reason, may you find peace and blessing in the journey. If this practice is helpful to you, return often.
In addition to walking the labyrinth, you are invited to pray at various places around St. Mary’s campus. Here are some ideas to get you started. Begin by setting an intention to build the spiritual muscles to better love God and your neighbor.
Columbarium – sit on a bench in the Memorial Garden and remember the communion of saints who have been important in your own life. Pray for all who have died, and remember they have a place in God’s eternal kingdom. Pray for those who mourn, that they may be comforted and strengthened.
Courtyard – Looking at Clay Hall, pray for our clergy and staff, and for the children of our parish.
Looking at Edwards Hall, pray for Christian Social Concerns’ volunteers and those we serve. Wonder prayerfully how we might better serve those in need in our community, and how we might work for a day when these services are no longer needed.
Looking at the Annunciation window, remember Mary and her willingness to join God’s work in the world. Remember that each of us is called by God to offer our unique gifts so that it might be “on earth as it is in heaven.” Pray for our congregation and for the universal church. Wonder prayerfully about the future of the church, both the buildings and the people of God.
Central Avenue/front steps of the church – Looking across at the eucalyptus grove and the Monterey Bay, give thanks for the beauty of creation. Wonder prayerfully how we might be better stewards of this beautiful planet God created.
Labyrinth – walk the labyrinth prayerfully. Before you begin or after you are finished, pray for all the people of Pacific Grove and all who visit. Pray that St. Mary’s may be a place where people encounter the holy and are transformed by it.