Social Justice Blog

<< return to main

Experiencing the Sacred in the Labyrinth at St. Patrick’s

Posted: June 03, 2015

Sometimes we feel called to a pilgrimage. We may need time to reflect, reconnect with our spiritual lives and take a break from the busyness that consumes much of our days. Last week, I embraced the sacred right in our backyard. I spent the morning discovering the beauty of the Labyrinth on St. Patrick’s property.

After days of rain, the sun made a dramatic appearance. It arrived just in time for our morning of prayer in the Labyrinth. Our morning started with an introduction of an old friend of St. Patrick’s, Sheryl Rose. She spent time in California learning this ancient form of prayer. Labyrinths have been in existence throughout the world since 350 BC. Remains of ancient labyrinths can be traced to Cretan coins, ancient pottery shards, and caves found in Africa, Asia, Russia, Scandinavia, Ireland and pre-European Americas.

Labyrinths were built in the floors of naves of great Cathedrals to create pilgrimage opportunities for Christians who were not able to travel to the Holy Land. Labyrinths are designed to create a space to enter the presence of God.

The labyrinth at St. Patrick’s Church was a beautiful legacy gift from a member of the Little Flower Guild in honor of her husband. She wanted to share her joy with our community. Sheryl Rose was part of the team that designed the project. She said that when the space was being excavated for the labyrinth, the construction workers believed that it was being built on the site of an older, pre-existing labyrinth. 

Labyrinths can be used by an individual or group. When I walked the labyrinth, I experienced a deep sense of peace. There is no, “right way” to use a labyrinth. And, no experience is necessary. The only requirement is respecting the journey of others when in the sacred space… 

We were grateful that we had a wonderful turnout for our event! The space can accommodate a large group; because it’s like a symphony of prayer… everyone is moving. There is plenty of space for everyone. Sheryl lined people up at the entrance of the labyrinth and each person entered and moved at their own pace. 

There are three phases of prayer within the labyrinth. It begins with the, “journey in” to the center. This is the, “release” phase. It’s a way to, “let go” of worries, concerns or challenges. The next phase is arriving at the, “center.” It’s a space to, “reflect” on your life and become open to wisdom. The last phase is the, “journey out” or, “return”… One may also choose to enter through the center. One can sit on the bench and pray.

You may choose to walk the entire labyrinth, or simply a portion of it. If you have difficulty reaching the labyrinth, there are also benches that overlook the space, so you can reflect on the space. There are also hand held labyrinths too. This is a way to take the prayer of the labyrinth with you and pray when it is convenient.

The St. Patrick’s labyrinth is located behind the Mahon Center. The labyrinth is surrounded by a beautiful garden. The labyrinth is quiet. The only sounds you may hear are wild turkeys and birds. We invite you to enjoy this gift. It is open every day to our community. If you didn’t have a chance to join us, there are brochures available by the fireplace in the Mahon Center. 

--Maura Schnorbach