I spent the weekend at the Galilee Retreat Centre in Arnprior, ON. It is a multi-faith “welcoming holistic spiritual life centre that is an oasis of peace, care and comfort.”
While there, a person may choose to walk the labyrinth. According to the Labyrinth Society, a labyrinth is “a single path or unicursal tool for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation.” Unlike a maze, which is a complex puzzle created to confuse or challenge, a labyrinth is a single path with a clear destination. A labyrinth doesn’t confuse: it clarifies.
Labyrinths are not some New Age loopy out-there phenomenon. They are an ancient tradition, and walking one can soothe a scattered soul. Different people need different things, so there are no firm “how to” rules for a labyrinth. But if you’re unfamiliar with the practice it might be helpful to make use of the five Rs: Ready, Release, Receive, Respond, Reflect.
- Ready. Before entering the labyrinth, think about a question you have, a worry you’re carrying or an intention. Come up with a phrase, a word or a question to carry in your mind.
- Release: Enter the labyrinth and walk at a pace that is comfortable for you. Don’t overthink it. Just walk. As you walk silently repeat the phrase, word or question that you chose.
- Receive: When you reach the centre of the labyrinth, stop there. Spend some time receiving whatever comes to you in whatever way it comes.
- Respond: Leave the centre of the labyrinth and as you retrace your steps out, respond to what you received.
- Reflect: When you finish the walk, spend some time reflecting on the experience.
As you can see by the picture, the Galilee Centre labyrinth is grassy with stones outlining the path. From my labyrinth walk on the weekend, I learned this:
- The path is not always clear.
- There are weeds on the path.
- There are flowers on the path.
- Sometimes you wonder if you’ll ever reach the destination.
- Sometimes you think you’re almost there, but then there is an unexpected turn.
- At the destination just “Let It Be.”
- You don’t need to make the path.
- You don’t need to tend the path.
- You just need to walk the path.
- If you’re really lucky, at the end of the walk there will be a dragonfly on your shoe.