If you have walked or driven past All Saints Anglican Church in December and January you may have noticed some changes taking place.
A labyrinth, or spiritual walking path, has been installed outside the entrance to the church and parish hall. Eventually, the entire circular path will be surrounded by a memorial garden.
Reverend David Price says the path appeals to everyone, regardless of faith. To use the path, he explains, you simply start walking. The design leads the user slowly into the centre, and then back out again, and is a way to slow oneself down to allow for meditation.
Walk in with a problem, walk out with an answer, he says.
Planning for the labyrinth began last year, and was installed by Contour Concrete in January. While the walk is nestled in the small space between the church and hall, the path works out to almost half kilometer in length.
Anyone with “big questions” would benefit from the time spent walking through, slowly, Price says.
The labyrinth is also providing a reason for a very special visit.
Bishop Michael Ingham will be attending at All Saints Anglican, from the Diocese of New Westminster, on Palm Sunday, April 1.
He will dedicate the labyrinth as a sacred walking path that day.
Labyrinths are a pre-Christian design — an ancient symbol found in many cultures and on all of the continents.
The earliest Christian labyrinth is constructed in stone in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France dating back to early 13th century. Medieval Christians visited Chartres (and other cathedrals) and walked the labyrinth as an alternative to taking a hazardous pilgrimage to Jerusalem to walk in the “footsteps of Christ”.
“We are all on the path exactly where we need to be,” Price recently wrote in an article for the church. “The labyrinth is a model of that path. It relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world.”
There is no set ritual for walking a labyrinth. It’s a place to quiet the mind, become aware of your breath, and find your own pace. Enter the labyrinth slowly, and calmly.
For those who believe in God, it’s a time for prayer as well as meditation.
The labyrinth at All Saints is modeled on the one at Chartres and is made of a mixture of sandy colour and mid-grey inter-locking brick on the major paths, separated by charcoal grey brick between paths. The center is the same colours as the path.
The whole unit is about 25-feet in diameter.
The Labyrinth is smooth across its surface so that the path is separated by colour and not by a curb.
As time passes, All Saints says they will hold Spiritual Exercises on the path, as well as using the space as an outdoor area for post-church coffee time and other social uses in the summer. It will also be a gathering place for celebrations of life.
It is a tool for a diversity of uses by the parish.
Eventually, they hope to install a couple of memorial benches in the garden for reflection.
The labyrinth is open to the whole community, and All Saints encourages anyone to take this meditative journey at any time. There will be public education and meditation events held on the Labyrinth so that members of the community of all ages can come and effectively use the Labyrinth to enhance their quality of life. These events will be communicated through the local churches as well as the web site www.allsaints-agassiz.ca