We have a labyrinth in our backyard. We have one because one day Debbie called me and said, “We’re going to build a labyrinth!” For those not familiar with labyrinths, their design and tradition pre-dates Christianity. That fact gives some church folks the willies, but labyrinths also have a long and storied history as places of Christian pilgrimage. The labyrinth at Chartres cathedral is the most famous and complex.
But, back to ours. Our backyard is 450-feet deep, but it’s only 60-feet wide. By the time I got home on the day Debbie called me, she had figured out that a 7-course labyrinth with 30″ wide paths would just fit. Sure enough, after we staked it off, it turned out to be about 42-feet wide, leaving a little room on either side.
We chose a classic labyrinth design with paths that wind back-and-forth until you reach the center where Debbie has installed, with my help, a large triangle rock. Triangles in Debbie’s paintings represent God’s presence with us, and God’s guidance for us. When we found the triangle rock, she just had to have it in the center of our labyrinth.
A few weeks ago a youth group from Church of the Epiphany in Danville, Virginia came to walk our labyrinth. The kids were great, and we served them lemonade and cookies on our front porch after they walked. I asked them if they were surprised by the way you think you’re almost to the center of the labyrinth, and then you find yourself on the outside course suddenly. They all had some interesting insights from their labyrinth experience.
Last Friday, a couple of college guys came to walk. One was taking a religion course and one of the assignments he chose was to walk a labyrinth. Last week, our granddaughters, Vivian (8) and Maggie (5) walked it…ran it…and walked it some more. And Vivian kept finding spots to kneel and pray along the path, and Maggie joined in, too. We almost had revival down on the labyrinth that day!
It’s funny how some people who have come, especially adults, have just stood and looked at our labyrinth, without actually entering and walking it. And some adults start in and then quit, and leave the labyrinth by walking across all the circuits until they reach the outer edge. Children, on the other hand, seem to really like being on the labyrinth.
Before the Danville group came, we had to weed and mulch the paths. The labyrinth had gotten overgrown during the winter and needed tending. On that Saturday before, Debbie and I placed 40-bags of cypress mulch all over the paths. We raked them into place, and sweep the top of the rocks off. Then we walked the labyrinth ourselves for the first time in a long time.
After this past Holy Week of Palm Sunday, Wednesday night Bible study, a community Maundy Thursday service, a Good Friday tennebrae service, preaching for both the community sunrise service, and our Easter morning worship, I’m bushed. Those of us who lead others in worship need to find our own space and time to connect with God. For Debbie and me that place is our labyrinth. I just need to walk it more often.
You can see more of the labyrinth and our house and yard at Debbie’s blog, Goodthoughts.net.