This past June, a talented tattooist/artist/parent traced and painted a labyrinth in the back play area of our school. The moment the first white chalk outline hit the pavement the kids were racing through the labyrinth – surprisingly all the in the same direction. After the colourful paint was added the labyrinth was filled with students walking, running, chatting, quietly contemplating the complexities of their day or eating the remains of their lunch. Teachers bring students down to the labyrinth in groups of two or three as it provides a quiet space away from the noise of the classroom where the kids can relax and refocus.
This was not my first encounter with a labyrinth. Our house church has retreated to a couple of locations that have labyrinths. As you walk the labyrinth at Five Oaks in Paris, ON you are treated to picturesque views of the Grand River but my favorite is the stone labyrinth at Crieff Hills Conference Centre in Puslinch, ON. It is located in a quiet dell near the centre of the property and can only be accessed on foot. Surrounded by trees and brush the labyrinth draws you in while the expanse of sky above pulls you up. It is a peaceful, calm and contemplative space – a beautiful place to pray.
According to Wikipedia, “Labyrinths, often of the Chartres design, began to appear on church walls and floors around 1000 C.E., and there are even examples from churches in the Roman Empire. The purpose of the labyrinths is not clear, though there are surviving descriptions of French clerics performing a ritual Easter dance along the path on Easter Sunday. Some books (guidebooks in particular) suggest that mazes on cathedral floors originated in the medieval period as alternatives to pilgrimage to the Holy Land…many newly made labyrinths exist today, in churches and parks. Walking among the turnings, one loses track of direction and of the outside world, and thus quiets the mind.”
So I have been thinking about painting a labyrinth in our church parking lot. We could head outdoors to pray on Sunday mornings or incorporate it into our study evenings. Of course then I remembered we are a house church and we don’t have parking lot. Or even a driveway for that matter and I am pretty sure the City of Hamilton wouldn’t be ok with me painting a Labyrinth on the street.
Looks like we will have to stick with field trips so house church peeps can indulge in some quieting of the mind and maybe a game of tag!
Some handy links:
Five Oaks: www.fiveoaks.on.ca
Crieff Hills Conference Centre: www.crieffhills.com