Unwinding: Christian labyrinths offer time for meditation, reflection
by Deirdre Long
Dec 07, 2012 | 3699 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The labyrinth in the parking lot at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Anniston is open to the public during daylight hours. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star
The labyrinth in the parking lot at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Anniston is open to the public during daylight hours. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star
Most people wouldn’t expect to find inner peace in the middle of an asphalt parking lot, but that’s just the intention of the labyrinth at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Anniston. There, one can walk the deceptively long path and pray, meditate or just enjoy the quiet.

“It’s reflection, quiet time,” said Lin Veasey, the pastor of the church. “They can listen to themselves.

In a busy and over-stimulated culture, it allows for deeper understanding of life.”

The labyrinth was created about 10 years ago by then-pastor Rev. Monty Clendenin, who found the design on the Internet and painted it on the church’s parking lot.

The design, about 28 feet in diameter, has a path more than 300 yards long. It’s a medieval design, Clendenin says, one that’s used often in cathedrals.

“It’s a meditation practice,” Clendenin said of walking the path. “It symbolizes the inward journey and the outward journey.”

The path into the labyrinth — which is not a maze, Clendenin says, because you can’t get lost and there are no dead ends — begins at due east (all cardinal directions are marked), and winds through circles, eventually stopping in the center. One meditates at the center, and then continues the path out when ready.

“It’s a way for Christians to expand their prayer experience and prayer practices,” Clendenin said. “A different way to approach spiritual issues, internal issues.”

Veasey, who has been pastor of the church for 18 months, says the labyrinth can enhance prayer because “the action can help make that a whole-body experience. You’re contemplative, but not contained. People who use discipline meditation, with Christian practice, can find a deeper connection with God,” she said.

The labyrinth can be especially helpful to the “nones,” that growing demographic of people who are Christian but non-denominational, Veasey says, because meditation can be more appealing than a church service.

The shape of the labyrinth mimics the octagonal shape of the church. The eight sides symbolize the seven days of creation, with the eighth side representing humanity. The sanctuary itself is inside the round area.

“There is no hierarchy,” Veasey says. “We flow into church and out of it.”

The labyrinth is open to the public.

Walk the labyrinth

Presbyterian Church, 401 E. Lenlock Lane, Anniston.

The three movements of the labyrinth

1. Into the labyrinth (purgation): This is the time to leave behind distractions as you move inward.

2. Resting at the center of the labyrinth (illumination): This is the time of openness and receptivity.

3. Out of the labyrinth (union): This is the time of moving back into the world in union with God.

More instructions and guidance questions are available in a box at the labyrinth.
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