Labyrinths are a simple tool used to engage our bodies, minds and spirits in prayer and reflection.
The labyrinth is believed to have evolved out of the most basic spiral and circle forms, found in nature. While its origins are still mysterious can be traced back over 4000 years. Over time, the labyrinth pattern, its symbolism, and its mythology have been integrated into the lives of people of different cultures for a variety of purposes, both spiritual and secular.
While Christians used labyrinths found on pre-Christian sites and modeled their own after those earliest labyrinth forms, the development of the high medieval Christian labyrinth was a breakthrough in design. The best known is the 13th century 11-Circuit labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral, France. The medieval Christians walked the labyrinth as a way of symbolically participating in the great pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Walking the labyrinth has re-emerged today as a powerful tool for personal and spiritual healing and growth, professional development, and community building. The labyrinth, both in permanent and portable forms, is now found in many contexts and environments including churches, schools, hospitals, birthing centres, hospices and other healthcare facilities, senior’s centres, retreat centres, prisons, community centres, parks and public and private gardens, as well as in the workplace.
We are very glad to provide access to a labyrinth at our church and pray that it will be a blessing to many.
(History of the labyrinth taken from the notes of Beverly Chen, Certified Labyrinth Facilitator, Ottawa, 2003)
We are entering a new stage of the pandemic which presents particular challenges to us as a community. With the relaxation of measures such as distancing, masking, and vaccine mandates, the burden of protection is falling primarily on people who are the most vulnerable to infection and those who care for them. It is important to remember that what might be a source of relief and delight to one person may be scary and, potentially, exclusionary to another. How do we navigate this time with kindness, justice, and humility?
We consider the variety of needs in our community and do our best to balance risk and harm.
For example, allowing individual speakers, using microphones, to remove their masks substantially increases the quality of participation for people who have impaired hearing while minimally increasing risks of infections. However, some people may feel unable to serve as readers or may choose to leave their masks on while reading because COVID infection is a more serious risk in their lives.
We strive to be sensitive to the range of emotions experienced in the community.
Do not assume that everyone shares your perspective; both happiness and frustration are tempered by the knowledge that others in our community are experiencing the reverse. In particular, displays of joy or relief are unhelpful to those who are feeling heightened regret or worry.
We move slowly and cautiously, possibly more slowly than required by public health/our diocese and possibly more slowly than some of us would like.
For example, although technically permitted (as of March 10), we are not going to be lifting the capacity limits of our on-site services yet. We will take time to talk to one another, to explore creative accommodations for differing needs, and to see what the infections rates in our city do.
We practice patience with one another and with ourselves.
There are very few “right” decisions. We seek to make the best decisions we can and to share the burden of the costs of those decisions as justly as possible, acknowledging that “as possible” will always be inadequate this side of God’s Beloved Community.
We pray. Pray for wisdom, for protection, for healing, for generosity of spirit, and for one another.
I am deeply grateful for this community – there is none I would rather be navigating with during these difficult times. Thank you for your faithfulness and for your deep love for this church.
Yours in Christ,