Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Labryinth

The image is an example of the Chartres Labyrinth. It is the pattern for the one at my church. Walking a labyrinth is a form of meditation and prayer.

The story of the labyrinth, as it was told to me, is lovely and right out of medieval times. Back in the days of old faithful members of the church longed to take pilgrimages to the Holy Lands. This was seen as a life goal of the faithful and many saved for years to go on one. Then along came the Crusades. Suddenly it wasn't safe to travel over there anymore. This made walking a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands very difficult. To compensate for the lack of opportunity Labyrinths started springing up all over the place. On them one walks one's pilgrimage in silent meditative prayer.

Church of Reconciliation Episcopal introduced the Labyrinth to San Antonio. We have a ministry with a portable one which we can cart from place to place and are in the process of building a permanent one. We see it as a resource for the entire community. Several other churches now have labyrinths or are in the process of building one in town. One of the nice things about labyrinths is that you don't have to be rich to walk one. You don't need to be Christian either. It is truly an interfaith tool.

I've added a link to The Labyrinth Society in the new Meditation section. This is a lovely page that covers just about as much information about the labyrinth as you might want to know: its history, different types, where to find one, how to walk one, and there is also a section on labyrinths and children. There are also instructions on how to make a labyrinth and several animated drawings so that you can draw a finger labyrinth. I think this art might be a good thing to use in the classroom. Children know instinctively how to use a finger labyrinth and helping them draw their own would make a nice cross-cultural art project. In the mean time, I plan on trying my hand at drawing several of the labyrinth forms. Somehow, I suspect the drawing of one is almost as effective at calming stressed nerves as tracing one.

This is a finger labyrinth. You can trace it online with your finger. Here's a link to one in PDF format that you can print out and keep.



Susan Palwick said...

I think it would be a neat art project to make labyrinths in as many media as possible: paint, clay, embroidery, mosaic, stained glass -- there must be other possibilities, but I can't think of them right now.

That would be a great Lenten project for a church: for people in the parish, individually or in teams, to make labyrinths in whatever form spoke to them most vividly.

If you had enough land, you could plant a garden labyrinth.

Have you written any guitar music inspired by the labyrinth, Lee?

Lee said...

Hi Susan! I'm thrilled you found the labyrinth so stimulating. You're absolutely right on the different media. I figure I'll do a craft day and use it to discuss symmetry at the same time as I discuss mazes. The children's page had stories of teachers whose classes or schools did labyrinths on campus some which had a theme such as peace. I think you covered most of the media presently available. The only one I could think of was skin...such as a tattoo or having the pattern of one shaved into the back of ones head. (g) I'll leave that form of body art to the younger crowd.

No, I haven't written any music around labyrinths yet. That may come down the road. Right now I'm mostly still getting my flexibility back in being comfortable with making music. However, your question made me think and I may work on a modification of that ribbon poem I did this spring. Let me think on it and I'll get back to you if I come up with anything from that. Thanks! (big smile)