Once per quarter, the Labyrinth at First Church is laid out on a 36 sq foot canvas on the floor of the Fellowship Hall. Music and candles help to create the sacred ambiance that surrounds the walker before, during, and after the walk. This labyrinth, a replica of the 13th century labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France, is an ancient symbol found in many different cultures. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has only one path to follow in and out. The journey you walk on the labyrinth can represent many different metaphorical journey’s – a journey toward the heart of God, a pilgrimage of prayer, or walking into the center of yourself in meditation. There are no surprises, no roadblocks on a labyrinth. When you walk out of the labyrinth you follow the same path as you did coming in.
For those who have difficulty walking, a hand labyrinth (traced with a finger) is available each evening.
- Creates a safe, open space where the inner and outer meet and become one;
- self-knowledge is discovered, meaning is recovered, and faith is restored.
- Is an interfaith tradition – walking the labyrinth represents the journeys and pilgrimages that we take in our lives;
Starting the Project
Healing Arts Ministries began in 1989 and started the Labyrinth project in June of 1996, with months of education and the exploration of the history and meaning (both personal and spiritual) as well as walking the labyrinths at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland. First Church’s Labyrinth opened on October 1, 1998 with a walk of prayer. It is scheduled to be opened the first Thursday of every month except where the first of the month falls near a holiday. (Please check schedule). The Labyrinth will be open 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Please call the church at (330) 253-5109 for definite times and dates.
The Portable Canvas
The FCC labyrinth is painted on canvas in four sections to facilitate its mobility and transportation. This project is a part of a Christian and Interfaith Outreach program of the Healing Arts Ministries.
The Sacred Circle
Everything is an intrusion, that is, when you have no time. But as the holiday approaches I hear statements like “there’s nothing like time for family,” and “there must be time for the people you care about, the things you treasure, you must make time for yourself,” and of course, “there is no time like the present.” That’s so true because once the present is past, it is gone. So think of those times as fulfilling peaceful moments and enjoy them like Judy Salamon describes about the labyrinth walk in November. She and Elizabeth Clark “took the time” for some reflection.
The Labyrinth– Our Story
By J. Salamon
Who knew when a simple idea of “something to do and a place to go” could become a wonderful experience?
Well Elizabeth Clark and Judy Salamon were talking about the recent installation of the WAL Fall Member’s Show at First Congregational Church and decided to get a better look, go see it again and to also to walk the Labyrinth there.
So on November 5, 2011, two curious women went to see what the Labyrinth was all about. Not knowing what to expect they entered the large gallery area and saw a huge canvas with a painted Labyrinth design spread out on the floor, taking up almost all of the room! A harpist was playing in a corner, candles were lit and on the floor around the parameter of the canvas. The whole room was transformed; it had become a magical environment with the warmth & aroma of candles, beautiful music being played and, of course, the wonderful artwork adorning the walls. A perfect “mystical environment” for contemplation, relaxation and personal enrichment!
Elizabeth and Judy were thrilled and wished so much that all the WAL members could be there to enjoy this evening with them. It was so unique to see this art show with all of its beautiful paintings enhanced with the soft lights, away from everyday bustle of life, and was enriched with music, aromas and ambiance. It was a truly rich, spiritual and artistic environment.
Helpers were there to explain the history and concept of how the labyrinth walk is done. Since 1998, this Church had been offering the performing labyrinth, which is held on the first Thursday of the month. It is a replica of the Labyrinth laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France, which was built around 1201, more than 800 years ago!
The Harpist (Kate Valentine), who was performing for the labyrinth on November 5, asked if they wanted to experience a Harp massage. They looked at each other and said,” yes!” So Kate moved the harp close making it touch the back of a wooden chair; the strong vibrations of each note from the strings were transmitted to become vibrations through the chair and the body. Judy said, “One at a time with our eyes closed, sitting relaxed, the beautiful music literally vibrated through us, unwinding every muscle and removing every stress”.
Thus relaxed they felt prepared us for the quiet walk of the labyrinth.
They each started the walk following the intricate paths wide enough for their feet. Several other people were in the labyrinth, sort of near each other, but each very separate and apart from each other and not in each other’s way. It was sort of like moving in a dream, each finding our pace and doing what felt with our own natural rhythm.
St. Augustine said, “It is solved by walking”; a labyrinth is a walking meditation. There are three stages to the experience described as; 1) The Purgation– releasing, letting go of the details of your life & shedding thoughts and emotions. 2) The Illumination–when you reach the rounded center space, a place for meditation and prayer to receive what is waiting for you there. 3) The Union—joining with your God, your higher power or the healing forces at work in the world. Elizabeth and Judy felt these phases transpire in this wonderful & uplifting experience
They also found out that a labyrinth has been considered to be a “calming circle” to help soothe souls. A San Francisco hospital has installed one next to its main entrance so that patients and staff can use it as a healing meditative path. Many walk it before surgery or while recovering from an illness.
Elizabeth summed up this evening art show & labyrinth experience by saying, “It is in Quiet that God speaks to us.”
Click here for the Labyrinth Schedule