For centuries, labyrinths have been used as a tool for psychological, personal and spiritual transformation. Now St. Timothy Lutheran Church has one of their own.
“The labyrinth has a long history,” said David Miller, Pastor at St. Timothy. “It predates Christianity, and it has Abrahamic traditions, whether it’s Islam, Judaism, Christianity, but it really has its origins some place before any of them. It’s been used for spiritual practice and emotional healing for centuries.”
A labyrinth is often referenced as a maze, but in a maze you can take a wrong turn and be faced with a dead end. A labyrinth is a continuous path that leads you to the center and then back out.
“You can kind of release that part of your brain, the reasoning and making decisions and ego consciousness and sink into a deeper awareness where the pattern of the labyrinth leads you around and you just kind of allow yourself to be lead. A deeper kind of consciousness emerges,” said Miller.
And they aren’t just found in Christianity. Labyrinths are being used in prisons, hospitals and mental health facilities. Studies have shown that they exercise the right side of your brain, giving the left, or the rational side, a break.
“There is that sense of purging and releasing what is in you, what is weighing on you and at a very minimum you still feel that release of emotion and you will descend into a deeper and more intuitive part of your mind,” said Miller. “You can then walk out with reunion for the rest of your life and take that with you.”
“Sometimes I might come in here and my heart might be full of joy and grace and I might walk it and have a totally different experience,” said Katie Andrade, Director of Worship Planning at St. Timothy. “Sometimes I might be a little heavy burdened and that burden gets lifted as I continue my journey. Just depends on what place I’m in when I step foot in here.”
In the Middle Ages, labyrinths began popping up all across Europe, mostly in cathedrals. St. Timothy’s is modeled after the 13th century one in Chartres Cathedral in France. The cathedrals became pilgrimage sights with labyrinths seen as a symbol of the path to Jerusalem.
“The labyrinth is in some sense a symbol of one’s pilgrimage through life,” said Miller. “Life doesn’t go in straight lines. It goes around and a round and ‘Wasn’t I just here before, yes, but now I’m at a little different of a place.’ So it’s sort of like a model of one’s journey in life.”
St. Timothy’s labyrinth is open to the public every Wednesday through the 27th. Additional hours will be scheduled after the Lenten season.
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