Walking the labyrinth at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

Walking is one of the various practices in use today for seekers of the transcendent experience. By walking a labyrinth, one can travel long distances in a small space.

The labyrinth walk overflows with metaphor and meaning. The labyrinth represents a journey, a pilgrimage, a conscious taking of time to seek God. Many of the major stories in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures involve journeys. Moses and his people journeyed toward the Promised Land, Joseph and Mary went home to Bethlehem to be counted, Jesus journeyed to resurrection, and Paul was converted on the road to Damascus. These are all powerful stories of journeys — journeys to find the Promised Land, to find home, to find God, to experience the Holy Spirit.

We humans quest for God and for self-knowledge. We, too, want to experience the holy moment, the presence of the holy. WE KNOW THIS: We cannot discover anything unless we look; we cannot move forward while standing still.

All over the world, people are searching for ways to express their deep desire to be on a journey to oneness with the holy of holies — to experience, if only for an instant, that transcendent moment. On the surface, it may seem foolish to spend 30 or 40 minutes walking up and down a circular path, but that is not the point. The point is that a choice has been made, a spiritual discipline has been chosen, the presence of the Spirit is being sought.

To walk in the ways of the holy requires that you be strong in your inner self; that you equip yourself with truth, justice, faith and courage; and that you be in constant prayer, alert and willing to persevere. Walking in this way is not like going out for a stroll, it is like going on a journey. It is to intentionally choose to be on a spiritual path. The call is to be on the move, trusting in the journey, open to seeing things in new ways. When one takes that first step in the labyrinth, one opens to the possibility of encountering the holy of holies on the path.

Just as there are no wrong turnings in the labyrinth, there are no right or wrong rituals to bring meaning to your walk. To help focus your attention, spending a short time in preparation is helpful. An inward statement of your desire or intention for the walk will help you focus before beginning. The labyrinth walk is truly an inward journey and an outward sign of your willingness to be present to the holy. Expect to encounter the holy on this path with sure and certain knowledge, reaching and experiencing the center, home.

After your walk, you may find it helpful to journal or record any insights or images that came during your walk.

Adapted from “Labyrinths from the Outside In,” Schaper, Camp; Skylight Publishers, VT