A Beginners Guide to Labyrinths


May 6th is World Labyrinth Day! For those that are not familiar with this holiday (or what a labyrinth is), it is a day in which the ancient tradition of walking a geometric pattern, known as a labyrinth, is practiced by many around the world across a variety of faith traditions. At first glance a labyrinth may appear like a maze. However, a labyrinth is not something that one needs to solve. There is no pressure to successfully navigate one’s way through winding twists or turns. Instead, it is an ancient symbol that reminds us of the simple reality that life is a journey and invites us to thoughtfully engage with God each step of the way. There is only one way in, one way out, and no dead ends. One simply follows the path and will eventually find their way to the center, and then follows it back out. Along the path, one can learn a great deal about how they travel through life and about God. 

Often times, labyrinths are explored as a contemplative exercise that can help create space for relaxation, meditation, spiritual reflection, and prayer. As one journeys through the curves of the labyrinth, the walk along the steady path may quiet a racing mind, help one find more balanced footing, and allow for us to more clearly hear direction from God, our guide.

There are many approaches to walking a labyrinth. One classic pattern is that of the 3 R’s— releasing, receiving and returning.


Releasing- As you enter the labyrinth, you simply let go. You allow for your anxious thoughts, cluttered to-do list, and the business of life to slip away. If they pop back up in your mind, you simply let them go again. 


Receiving- In the center, you wait and listen. What might God want you to hear today? What might He open your eyes to see? Perhaps a new idea, fresh feelings about a situation, or a gentle reminder of a truth your heart needs to hold on to. 

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Returning- As you walk the path back out, you quietly reflect on your experience. What does it mean for you to take that gift with you back into the world? Allow yourself to be full of gratefulness for the journey God took with you. 

Again, there are many ways and places to take your labyrinth journey. For those in the Devon area, Saint Luke has an outdoor labyrinth available for you to explore! You can also find labyrinths near you by checking out the World Wide Labyrinth Locator.  Some people's labyrinth journeys do not involve walking at all. Instead, they might use a printed or knit finger labyrinth, which they trace with their finger. Check out this ELCA fact sheet about labyrinths to learn more and to get printable patterns to use yourself!

Regardless of how you choose to travel, we encourage you to try out this ancient practice. Perhaps even consider joining us tomorrow at Saint Luke for a World Labyrinth Day Walk. You never know what you might discover along the way. 

Walk with us on this journey, Lord. Steady our legs when we wobble. Direct our feet when we seem to lose our way. With every step, remind our hearts of Your presence. You are our guide, our traveling companion. You are the Way.