Monday, February 25, 2013

Allie Pleiter on Labyrinths


Walking a labyrinth has been a spiritual practice for thousands of years.  While most follow a traditional design, they come in various forms and sizes.  While I found them intriguing from a graphic standpoint, and I am a lover of ritual, I never quite did get the point of them until one summer back in 2001 when I was well and fully stumped.

Normally, I have a plan for everything.  Only this time, an issue so pervasive and painful had swamped me into an utter stupor.  I couldn’t see my way clear to any kind of solution.  It was then that a friend suggested the spiritual practice of walking a labyrinth.

I admit, I thought it a little “woo-woo” at first.  Still, I figured thousands of years of faithful souls can’t be too far off course, so I went to http://www.labyrinthsociety.org/ and found several close to my home.   Some were rudimentary, others were strikingly ornate, but all followed the same pattern designed to weave the walker in and out along a path to its center and then back to the outside.  The trick to these paths is that it’s always unclear how far you are in your journey.  Sound a little like life?

I felt silly the first time I did it.  I expect everyone does.  As I walked along, slowly, I felt my stress subside and my spiritual ears perk up.  I was spending time paying attention to God, and that is always, always fruitful time.

I had several “aha” moments during that first walk, and I’ve never failed to come away with something important any time I’ve walked a labyrinth.  In fact, I became so enamored of the practice that I bought I little personal one to use when I cannot get out and walk.  It’s meditative qualities have brought me great insight and valuable peace.

I expect my hero from Family Lessons, Mason Wright, would have benefitted greatly from such a practice--if anyone could have ever convinced him to try it.  The poor man is so tied up in knots of pain that I think it would take an acre of labyrinths to get through to him.  Good thing he has stubborn, won’t-back-down woman like Holly Sanders to keep chipping away at that mile-deep armor he wears around his heart.  How does she get through?  Well, you’ll have to wait until next month to find out.  Maybe you could walk a labyrinth while you’re waiting....

10 comments:

Pamela Tracy said...

You've convinced me to see if they're are any Labyrinths near me! Although, I confess, the labyrinth on Harry Potter gave me chills.

Lenora said...

I have walked one before and it was- soothing, calming experience. It bring you out of the maze and clears your head.

Vince said...

It’s as if you turned the labyrinth into an amazing maze; however. were you ready to meet the Minotaur? Sometimes knowing the Way is only half the solution.

Leigh Bale said...

Fascinating, Allie. I didn't know labyrinths were for spiritual contemplation. I always thought they were just a clever way for people to get lost. HAHAHA! I'll never think of them the same way again. Thanks for sharing!

Missy Tippens said...

Allie, I've never heard of doing this today. Very cool! I'll have to do a Google search!

Missy Tippens said...

I just found this one to watch (instead of walk) online...

http://www.labyrinthonline.com/flash/Chartres%20Final.swf

Allie Pleiter said...

It's not the same thing as a maze. Those--like the hedge maze in Harry Potter--were for entertainment (or befuddlement) but these have a specific spiritual purpose. Missy, the digital one is intriguing, but I miss the physical element of slowly putting one foot in front of the other or even moving my pointer through the miniature one. Still, how neat to find an internet version. Maybe iPads have one you can do with your finger?

Debby Giusti said...

Allie, I haven't heard of them used in a spiritual way either. Interesting.

Jenny Blake said...

I saw on once on a tv show where the people were walking it but didn't really know what it was about. sounds interesting.

Julie Hilton Steele said...

I have seen the one at Chartres in France, walked very simple ones made out of gravel and logs, and helped paint one to use for a traveling ministry.

Love them.

Peace, Julie