The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 24, 2013

Labyrinth can be a place where you find yourself

By Jen Mulson
The Gazette, Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Every now and then, on a warm, sunny weekend afternoon, you can find me walking in circles downtown. Not because I’ve lost my way, but because I’m trying to find it.

The rose-colored cobblestone labyrinth at First Christian Church helps.

Clearly, I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Some labyrinths are open daily, and others require a phone call before paying a visit.

“A labyrinth is a single path or unicursal tool for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation,” says The Labyrinth Society on its website.

The one at First Christian Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., was modeled after the Chartres Labyrinth, which was laid into the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France in 1360, said the Rev. Gaylord Hatler. He oversaw the installation of the maze at First Christian Church in 2004.

“I had been doing some studying about labyrinths,” he said, “and some of the fascinating stuff they found in different shapes on six continents. They predate Christianity by a long time, and they’re definitely a spiritual experience for most people.”

I think he’s right. My visits become a walking meditation, and sometimes, if I’m lucky, a way to open myself to new ideas.

Walking a labyrinth is different for everybody. Some walk with a problem in mind or as a dedication to somebody. Before retiring in 2007, Hatler organized two community labyrinth walks at the end of 2004 and 2005.

“We asked people to walk it on the way in and think about the year that was coming to a close,” he said. “And what had they experienced that still had hooks in them, and to think about letting go of those as you walk through, and feel them leave you. Stay in the center as long as you’d like, and on the way out think about how you want to be open to God’s activity in the coming year.”

During my walks, which are slow and deliberate, I often find myself noticing another portion of the path, one that is yet to come or that I’ve already tread. And I laugh at myself a little as I feel that itch to jump over to the other path so I can get to the end faster. It reminds me that in my life, I cannot jump ahead of myself or go back in time — there is only the portion of path I am on at the time to contemplate.

“Some people consider a maze and a labyrinth the same,” Hatler said. “To me, they’re not the same. A maze is designed to get you lost, and a labyrinth is designed to get you found.”