Walking the Labyrinth
I started walking the labyrinth about 18 years ago, having been introduced to it as a method of contemplation and prayer by Mary Beth Wells, our Deacon at St. Paul's for many years. She invited me to walk the labyrinth for the first time during a Lenten Day of Prayer that she led at the Cenacle Retreat House up near Hypoluxo Rd. just north of Delray. It was April, and the sun was shining, the sky was a pale spring blue, the Intracoastal was sparkling like diamonds, and a multitude of flowers were bobbing brilliantly in their pots around the grounds. The experience transformed how I pray and how I take prayer out into my daily life.

The labyrinth up at the Cenacle was constructed, as most labyrinths are, as a circle containing a path that twists and turns, moving alternately close to and away from the center, leading you sometimes in long, almost lazy, arcs and other times in abrupt turns that finally, inevitably, take you to its center. That day, as I walked that path for the first time, I was given the opportunity to go deep, deep inside myself, deeper than I had ever gone before. I had the feeling that I was being led not to the center of that circle, but to the center of myself. To the center of myself where I might find the spark of life that is God in me.

I have walked the labyrinth hundreds of times since that day. I have walked labyrinths in the outdoors and the indoors. I have walked them with the rain dripping gently on my open umbrella. I have walked a labyrinth made of masking tape stuck onto a blue tarp, ankle deep in post-hurricane flood waters. I have walked alone, with friends, with strangers. I have walked a labyrinth with a 3-month old baby in my arms, and I have led a blind woman through a labyrinth who cried the entire way, I don't know why. I have walked by candle light and by moon light. And each and every time I have walked, I have felt the presence of God deep within myself, filling me with life, filling me with love.

The labyrinth at the Cenacle is no longer there. In fact, the Cenacle itself is no longer there, the nuns having moved away, making space for another condo development on the Intracoastal. However, because of my initial experience there and my subsequent commitment to this form of prayer, I have built a small labyrinth in my own back yard. In my busy, full-to-overflowing life, there is something very soothing about the slow, simple, methodical putting of one foot in front of the other. The labyrinth acts as a metaphor for life, and trusting that the path is going to take me step by step to the center and back lets me live in the trust that God is going to guide me step by step on the path of my life. What peace comes with that trusting!

I hope I have a chance to share this ancient practice with you. Please join me in a Lenten labyrinth walk at the Duncan Center's outdoor labyrinth on Saturday, March 17 from 10:00 to 11:30. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at 561-251-4704 or email me at ehorton2@fau.edu .
Submitted by
Gail Chewning

Labyrinth in Gail's backyard.
www.stpaulsdelray.org | 561-276-4541