Home > Episcopal Labyrinths, Resources > Where to find a Episcopal labyrinth within the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio

Where to find a Episcopal labyrinth within the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio

30 September 2009

Elder’s Note:  I think it’s fitting to relate one of my mother’s favorite anecdotes from her life as a young girl.  She told how her own mother would bake a cake, then apply frosting, then let the cake sit out on the counter and set for a bit, waiting to be either served later or bundled up.  It seems that sometimes Mom and my auntie would sneak in and drag one finger across the icing on the cake.  That left a problem in the form of two ugly gashes across the surface of the cake icing, roughly as wide as a little girl’s finger.  Their solution was to proceed to remove the entire icing off of the cake in the same fashion, hoping that their mother (1) would not come back in time to catch them, and (2) would return to see the naked cake, and think that she somehow forgot to frost the cake. 

Such is this series on Episcopal labyrinths, and I am learning, other things in TEC.  You can’t run your finger across the sweet surface of the matter without leaving something that looks ugly, and it’s probably better just to sweep the entire surface.  You might get sick from too much frosting, and you might not care for what’s underneath the frosting;  but the job just has to get done, and someone’s gotta do it. 

Metaphor aside… The ongoing research into Episcopal labyrinths has turned up something interesting – a labyrinth locater

The thing I find with this fad is that there is a lot of .. diversity among the people who use it.  The locater pulls up various churches – mostly mainline (Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal), with a smattering of Baptists and also some Unitarian / Universalists in the mix.  Others, are on private property.  Pagans also use labyrinths as we see here, for example. 

I find myself increasingly bothered by this – disparate groups using the same device for spiritual / meditative purposes.  Now, obviously this is not true for all things.  Both pagans and Christians use automobiles, but that does not bring the automobile or its use under suspicion;   Then again, the activity of driving a car is not inherently spiritual. 

From here:

Walking the Labyrinth is a mystical journey into the other realms, and back to Earth. It is a symbolic pilgrimage out of the small self, or busy mind, back Home to the Divine.

Here is another description of such pilgrimages:

There are three stages of the walk:
– Purgation (Releasing) ~ A releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. This is the act of shedding thoughts and distractions. A time to open the heart and quiet the mind.
– Illumination (Receiving) ~ When you reach the center, stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.
– Union (Returning) ~ As you leave, following the same path out of the center as you came in, you enter the third stage, which is joining God, your Higher Power, or the healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work you feel your soul reaching for.

Did I neglect to link this?  Silly me.  The latter quote is from Grace (Episcopal) Cathedral’s (San Francisco) website.  Note the “God, your Higher Power, or the healing forces at work in the world.”  Gee, given my choice of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob -or- “the healing forces at work in the world,” I think I’ll choose the first one.  The other one doesn’t like me very much. 

The labyrinth locater did pull up one labyrinth in our diocese.  This is located at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church near Columbus.  The locater lists the Rev. John Johannsen (who should be listed as Rev. Canon) as rector, but apparently the parish has a temporary rector at the moment, the Rev. J. Michael Jupin.  As a side note, the Rev. Canon John Johannsen also serves on (e.g.,) the commission on congregational life, the Diocesan Review Committee, the Stewardship and Development Commission, and a plethora of other commissions and committees within the diocese. 

You can locate the labyrinth page under, ‘Christian Formation’  (?).  It lists a prayer attributed to Thomas Merton, apparently to throw us off the scent a bit.  No matter, the trail becomes warm again on St. Alban’s selfsame webpage: 

Why Walk a Labyrinth?
– Walking into a labyrinth is a symbol of entering into something, learning what is there to learn, and then moving on with life.A labyrinth walk can represent a life journey, a pilgrimage to a sacred place, or a prayer bringing us to God.
– It can be a way of intentionally and reflectively facing a problem or issue.
– Sometimes you may walk the labyrinth looking for an answer.
– You may walk simply to be open to what comes.
– A labyrinth walk is a spiritual and personal journey, and therefore it is a sacred path.

Did you get that?  Let’s recap… A labyrinth is (1)  a symbol,  and; (2)  represents something,  and; (3)  helps us reflect on a problem, and;  (4)  you walk on it, and ;  (5)  sometimes it hits you when you’re walking on it, and;  (6)  A labyrinth walk is a spiritual and spiritual journey, therefore it is a sacred path

Okay, so it represents something, it represents something, it helps us think, and by the way – it’s also sacred.  Hmm… the conclusion doesn’t seem to follow from the premises.  I think there is a class at our seminaries, where they teach aspiring priests how to write this stuff.  They always write in a way that puts you to sleep, then throw in the zinger just after it’s likely that you’ve stopped reading. 

Have fun!  But don’t stay up too late. 

And don’t worry my Oysters, there’s plenty more where that came from.  😉

– Elder

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