0n May 13th, the Unity in the Valley Church dedicated in a quiet ceremony the labyrinth the congregation raised money for, had designed and constructed on the church grounds. The labyrinth committee made up of Tom Coleman, Steve Otrosa, Elaine Wood, and Julio Morales all worked hard to bring forth the final design and present it to the congregation.
A labyrinth is a path of prayer, a spiritual tool to bring us closer to God. The twists and turns of the labyrinth are metaphors for our own individual spiritual journeys. For the Medieval pilgrims, the path of the labyrinth symbolically led to their final destination, the New Jerusalem. The path leading out from the center of the labyrinth returns us to the daily challenges the outside world has created for us.
The labyrinth on the Unity in the Valley Church grounds is open 24/7 to all general public. No appointment is needed. No membershipis required.
How to Enjoy a Labyrinth Walk
Walkers are encourage to enter a meditative or prayerful state, staying open to the divine as they begin. So feel free to walk around the outside of the labyrinth to quiet your mind.
When the time feels right, enter the labyrinth. Wander along the pathway, taking care to stay on the path. Do not cross the lines except to let someone pass. Feel free to move at your own pace stopping anywhere that feels right. When you reach the center, stop and meditate or pray if you feel so inclined. Many people bring or wear sacred objects on their walk. Some chant or drum while walking.
You can walk alone or not: but as in life, no matter how many people join you, your trip is singularly your own. A trip around the labyrinth may do no more than clear your head and temporarily quiet your chattering mind, or it can be a moving spiritual experience. There is no right or wrong way. All experiences are perfect for the person and the moment. Please feel free to use the benches or the patio area to sit and process your experience and/or record it in your journal.
Unity (Mary Rose O’Reilley)/Helen Russell (Tucson Authority on Labyrinths)
History of the Labyrinth
The history goes back as far as 4500 years. The most famous and celebrated is the Chartres. The Chartres is named after the stone labyrinth in the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France. It carries the participant through eleven paths that wind through four quadrants of the circle. You will also find a cross in the layout with a rosette in the center which is said to represent the Virgin Mary. The symbolic spiritual journey of walking the labyrinth came from necessity. During the crusades it was dangerous and impossible to make a pilgrimage to the Holy land. Many still call this the “Road to Jerusalem”.
Helen Russell (Tucson Authority on Labyrinths)
The Spiritual Story
We are all on the path... exactly where we need to be. The labyrinth is a model of that path.
A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The Labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.
A labyrinth is an archetype with which we can have a direct experience. We can walk it. It is a metaphor for life's journey. It is a symbol that creates a sacred space and place and takes us out of our ego to "That Which Is Within."
Labyrinths and mazes have often been confused. When most people hear of a labyrinth they think of a maze. A labyrinth is not a maze. A maze is like a puzzle to be solved. It has twists, turns, and blind alleys. It is a left brain task that requires logical, sequential, analytical activity to find the correct path into the maze and out.
A labyrinth has only one path. It is unicursal. The way in is the way out. There are no blind alleys. The path leads you on a circuitous path to the center and out again.
A labyrinth is a right brain task. It involves intuition, creativity, and imagery. With a maze many choices must be made and an active mind is needed to solve the problem of finding the center. With a labyrinth there is only one choice to be made. The choice is to enter or not. A more passive, receptive mindset is needed. The choice is whether or not to walk a spiritual path.
At its most basic level the labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey to the center of your deepest self and back out into the world with a broadened understanding of who you are.
The Labyrinth as a Method of Problem Solving
The three basic parts of the labyrinth are the entrance, the circuits, and the center. Lets take a "walk" through the labyrinth and see how this works. Come with me to the entrance, pause here and think of a problem or concern. It is important that you stay open to receiving a solution. The labyrinth is entered on circuit number 3. Begin at the entrance and start "walking". Walk at a slow pace, not stopping until you reach the center.
Each path is associated with a feeling or attitude about the problem or concern.
Circuit 3 - I will explore what "I think" about the problem.
Circuit 2 - I will explore what "I feel". What emotions do I feel about this problem?
Circuit 1 - I will explore how this problem affects me in my physical world.
Circuit 4 - How does this affect my spiritual life? Will it help you grow or inhibit you?
Circuit 7 - Ask God to walk with you. Place the problem in the hands of God and be thankful.
Circuit 6 - Ask for vision - a solution to your problem. When it comes accept it without judgment. Accept the idea of a solution that you have been given.
Circuit 5 - Ask yourself, "What is the first step?" Let it come.
Goal (Center) - This is the place for just pausing and letting the solution you have been given settle in. Just be with it.
This is the first half of your walk.
Circuit 5 - Look at the first step you were given with non-judgment.
Circuit 6 - Keep looking at answer you were given in a non-judgmental way.
Circuit 7 - Thank God for giving you this awareness.
Circuit 4 - How will this solution affect your spiritual life? Will it help you grow or inhibit you?
Circuit 1 - How will this solution affect your physical life? How will it affect your body, your health?
Circuit 2 - How does this solution make you feel?
Circuit 3 - What do you think about the solution? If it still just doesn't seem like the right solution, try walking again later! You might try asking the question in a little different way.
At the entrance to the labyrinth, turn and give thanks for the guidance you received. Notice how you feel as you emerge from the labyrinth. Use the labyrinth as a helpful tool for growth!