|Labyrinth at the Convent of the Sister's of Charity in Kentucky|
The ancient Medieval labyrinths in the great cathedrals of Europe, like the wonderful one at Chartres that I walked last summer, were designed for pilgrims who were unable to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem or Santiago. It was, for them as it is now, a "virtual" pilgrimage. It has all the twists and turns of a real pilgrimage and people walked it slowly and with intensely thoughtful prayer. It brings you close to the center and then draws you away. Just when you think you are approaching the center, you find yourself practically back at the beginning mirroring some of the frustration you feel when you travel.
It is also a wonderful metaphor for life. There is only one way in, through birth, and one way out, through death. Unlike the maze, which is meant to trick you with dead ends, it is a solitary tract and you can't become lost or trapped as long as you continue to put one foot in front of the other and walk. There are also finger labyrinths that can be "walked" in the comfort of a chair if you can't get to a real one or are confined to bed due to an illness. They still have the same meditative quality and I have one of the labyrinth at Chartres that I use frequently.
I plan to construct my own labyrinth in my back yard this year. At least I will begin the process this summer. I know that at some time in the future all these worldly pilgrimages of mine will have to cease but through my labyrinth I can continue to use my pilgrim's heart at home. I can use it now, in between my trips, to fine tune my inner reflections. I suggest you try to find a labyrinth near your home this summer. You can use this Labyrinth Locator to assist you. You can also visit my Pinterest board for more resources. Don't let time or finances or health concerns keep you from taking a pilgrimage to the center of your soul. Remember...