LABYRINTH RECORD

I am using this Blog to keep a record of the labyrinths that I have visited, and walked since my Sabbatical in the first 3 months of 2019 (that record appears under a separate link on this website). Where I have journalled the experience I am posting the write-up here.
The latest record appears first.

April - May 2020

We have had a rope labyrinth in a convenient enclosed space outside our garage which one or other of us has walked from time to time. We walked it on Good Friday and put a tomb representation in the middle, and then celebrated the resurrection with the labyrinth on Easter Day. I have been walking it every now and again since and using it as part of my daily devotional pattern.

6th February 2020

Sheldon

WALK 4: Today I walked the labyrinth in the afternoon and carried on with the stories in Mark 5. This meant re-living the walk from the shores of the lake to the house of Jairus with the interruption of the woman with the haemorrhage in between. As I walked the labyrinth, I was in the crowd - being jostled and pushed, and someway behind Jesus, but I was able to see the main action as it happened. I have journalled the full story but won't detail it here. Suffice it to say that, by the time I had reached the middle, the woman with the bleeding had been healed and affirmed and sent on her way, and the 12 year old girl had been lifted from her recent passing from life to death, and everyone had been completely amazed. 
What I should have said, at the beginning, is that I waited some time at the labyrinth for the sun to appear so that I could take photos. Whilst waiting, I decided to walk 'the lunations' (the cusps and foils around the outside of the Chartres labyrinth - there would be 114 of each of them if there wasn't a small gap for the entrance).

In this photo, you can see the lunations right in the foreground.  The cusps are two-thirds of a semi circle in shape and, in this case, the foils are made up of one slate tile and two half tiles.
Well, it took me a little while to go all the way round because I stopped at each foil and named (and prayed for) as many people in my 8 churches as I could immediately remember. I ran out of names before the end and so included ecumenical people and then the participants and volunteer team on this retreat...

5th February 2020
Sheldon

WALK 3: I again walked the labyrinth quite early in the day and, again, followed through an Ignatian meditation. I wanted to carry on the story from yesterday. I read Mark 5 v 1 - 20 whilst still in my room and then went out to the labyrinth. Yesterday, I had imagined Jesus and his disciples arriving on the shore in their boats and going in search of some food and some warmth after their adventure in the middle of the lake.  But, no!  Today's reading tells me that the man from the caves (Luke's gospel says that he was naked) called out to Jesus as soon as he arrived. So I walked the labyrinth imagining, like yesterday, that I was in one of the other boats. Myself and the other boat occupants had arrived soaking wet and I couldn't believe it when Jesus was immediately having to deal with another person in need!  I wound my way to the centre of the labyrinth reflecting on the conversation Jesus had with the man, the realisation that the huge herd of pigs were nearby (what does 2,000 pigs even begin to look like?!), and the denouement when Jesus gives permission for the legion of demons to go into the pigs. Even in my imagination I couldn't look at the quantity of pigs taken over by madness and going into the lake to drown.  I concentrated on the man and the need to help him now that he was left exhausted and vulnerable.  I helped find him clothes, food and drink and watched - from the centre of the labyrinth - as Jesus asked him if he was alright and what his real name was?  In my imagination, it was Zacharius!  I walked back and entered into the aftermath - the villagers coming out, their angry exchange with Jesus, the acceptance that we had to get back into the boats again.  The man asked to come too but Jesus told him to go back to his wife and family and to tell people what God had done for him. In the spirit of contemporary Ignatian meditation, I asked Jesus if I could go in the boat with him this time and I had a short conversation with him about what had happened. I felt exhausted like everyone else and as I exited the labyrinth I was able to leave myself in the boat resting in the presence of Jesus. 

4th February 2020
Sheldon

WALK 2: The idea has come to me that it would be good to try walking the labyrinth as an Ignatian meditation of a Bible story i.e. to enter into a gospel story as a participant as I walk. I don’t think I have got this idea from anywhere else so nothing to go on as to how to do it. In the Morning Prayers of the Community here, they are reading through Mark chapter 5 and it has made me think of the ‘Stilling of the Storm’ story at the end of chapter 4.  I am prompted to use Mark 4 v 35 – 41 as my experimental Ignatian walk. On the way in, I imagine the trip to the middle of the lake. I place myself in the boat nearest to Jesus as 'there were other boats with them'. I imagine women, along with the men, in the boats. [I am reminded of our trip to the Holy Land in 2013 and can picture the Lake and the sort of boat].   As I reach the fourth quadrant of the labyrinth, the storm gets up and the boat occupants start to panic. Jesus is woken and, as I approach the centre of the labyrinth, he tells the wind to stop and the waves to be still.  I reach the centre and stay some little way hearing Jesus say 'Why were you so afraid? Even now, do you not have any faith?' The journey in took 15 minutes and I prepare for the journey out.  I imagine the mood of everybody after what they have witnessed and hear the whisperings of 'Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey him!' I think to myself that only God can have control over the weather - at short notice or at any time.  I return to the way in (now the way out) and picture the boats arriving at the far shore, Jesus' boat last. I exit the labyrinth and look back at it knowing that it holds that special story in which I have participated.  I think to myself that the disciples (men and women) must undoubtedly have been profoundly changed by their experience. I ask myself - has it changed me?  I have to admit that it probably has.

3rd February 2020
Sheldon

I am on an R5 time apart at the Sheldon Retreat Centre run by the Mary & Martha Society in Devon.  That is to say - Rest, Retreat, Read, Relax & Recuperate, I think!  So I am here until Friday morning and, if I walk the labyrinth each day, then that is five opportunities for amazing labyrinth walks. 

WALK 1: Today has been a day of finishing off 'stuff' and I have had to deal with a wedding I am taking in April where the venue is not finalised. There have been issues over whether or not various chapels are licensed for weddings.  Or not. All this meant I walked to the labyrinth this afternoon with a sense of wanting everything to do with this wedding to be alright and for me to be able to leave it safely for the rest of this week. I announced this as my intention - to God - as I paused before the entrance. Because I was wanting to place my wedding couple in the centre of the labyrinth, I walked not too slowly and let my mind wander on other things.  I am writing up more of my Labyrinth book and so started thinking about using the Chartres style labyrinth (elven circuits) in different ways.  Do the numbers one to eleven have biblical significance for example?  I got to the centre and walked round the petals using Lauren Artress' themes of Minerals, Plant-life, Animals, Humans, Angels, the Divine. In the Human segment I mentally placed my couple and the wedding and, picking up some small sticks, I arranged them in a star shape to represent all that was involved.  For the time being, I have left it all there with God...

30th January 2020
CLIFF COLLEGE

Having attended a course at Cliff College (Superintendent's Induction part 2) I realised that, once again, I had the chance to walk the labyrinth on the terrace as I did three times (three course parts) on my Sabbatical.  The weather was inevitably not very good and the area had a depressing feel as I climbed the hill to get there.  However, when I stood in front of the weathered (and in need of some attention) design that is made out of plastic piping (outline of the walls), bark (path), and white stones (substance of the walls), I again marvelled at how such a thing can hold the possibility of sacred experience.  And this is before I walked it!

I prayed before I went in and was influenced by a book I have been reading by an American called Helen Curry.  Curry writes this about labyrinths in general:

'The labyrinth is a tool to help us find our way. It draws on a spiritual practice that is thousands of years old and spans the world's religions, cultures, and historical epochs...'

As I entered the design I decided that my intention on that occasion was to walk the path as if I were walking through the epochs of history.  As I did this and, as I moved backwards and forwards across the pattern, I also felt as though I was encompassing the whole world in a kind of unifying experience.  As this was the day before Brexit, this seemed to have particular relevance, but Brexit or no Brexit, I had a peaceful sense of the whole world being one and of it inexorably moving through the centuries under God's watchful and sustaining eye.  I stayed in the Centre for a little while then walked out, unwinding what had been wound. As I came back to the entrance - which was now the exit - I felt as though I was leaving the world, and the centuries, behind. I knew that my life-force was focussed on my small life in my particular world and, small though that is, I can make a difference in my own small ways. 

January 11th 2020
My portable labyrinth on a training day

Jen and I led a training day for the preachers/worship leaders of the Lowestoft Circuit on 'Meditative Worship'.  We touched on a range of subjects including Reflective Worship, Taize, Meditation in Services.  In a morning workshop, I offered an option on three more 'out of the box' ways into prayer and worship: 1. Body Prayer  2. Mindfulness Meditation  3. The Labyrinth.  I used my 3 circuit portable labyrinth which a few people walked.

December 2019
OTLEY HALL

Another Retreat Day at Otley and a final walk of the labyrinth.  Alas!  The owner is selling the hall and it is assumed that the Retreat Days will not continue (she has organised them as an expression of her Christian faith).

3rd October 2019
Ely Cathedral and Otley Hall

I have had two labyrinth walks recently but not had a chance to write them up.  In mid-September, I was meeting someone at the Methodist Church for a fairly intense conversation and, when it was over, I felt the need to relax, and to offer the conversation to God, both at the same time.  I thought, ‘Shall I find a coffee shop?’, or ‘Shall I sit in the car for a bit?’, or ‘Shall I go for a walk through Ely city centre?’ BUT THEN I remembered!  There is a lovely Cathedral and it has a labyrinth in the entrance!  No contest, that is where I went. It was towards the end of the afternoon so not too many people were just walking across in a random manner.  A lady was already following the path and I smiled at her as I embarked on a similar venture. It reminded me of my significant walk back on my Sabbatical – the photo I reproduce here was from that earlier occasion:

On 24th September Jen and I attended a Retreat Day at Otley Hall in Suffolk.  Now, I did want to be retreating 2 or 3 weeks in to a new job, a new role, a new circuit and 8 new churches but, also, I wanted to walk the Otley labyrinth again.  We had plenty of opportunity during the day and Jen & I both walked it at different times. The great thing about Otley is that there are resident peacocks and there is a male who seems to consider the labyrinth his territory…  well, it makes the walk a little scary but it also makes it seem rather special…

The other labyrinth news is that we are planning one on our Cromwell Close estate next Spring!  There is an area of tiles in front of the garage which seems to ask for one, it will have to be painted on and if anyone has any ideas about how this could be done, and by whom, then we are open to suggestions!

19th - 23rd August 2019
Wydale Hall

I have come on an Individually Guided Retreat at Wydale Hall in Yorkshire to help me prepare for my new role. There is a wonderful labyrinth that I have walked a few times before:

I walk the labyrinth - which is in the walled garden - each day I am here = 5 times.  Because the walks are an essential part of my retreat, they are too personal and too spiritually intimate to add detail to this Blog. But, amazing!

13th August 2019
Canvas labyrinth in Norwich Cathedral

Jen and I have come into Norwich, and into the Cathedral, in order to see the helter skelter that is making headlines and causing controversy:

There is a large number of people buying tickets for the helter skelter and many of them are exploring all the other activities on offer. We discover that one of the activities is a portable, canvas, labyrinth and so, naturally, we want to walk it:

We have an interesting conversation with one of the volunteers staffing it.  She suggests that we might wait until a couple of children have finished running round it.  I say 'We have just been to Chartres were the labyrinth was crowded all the time so this looks empty!'.  I also think to myself - and wish I had said - I love seeing children on the labyrinth.

9th August 2019                  
CHARTRES CATHEDRAL

8th August

My first glimpse of Chartres Cathedral catches me by surprise when I look out of the window as the train from Paris draws in to the station. ‘Wow! That must be it’, I think, and it is it, towering high about the town, majestic and stately and wonderful.

We go in, once we are settled in the hotel, in the early evening. The nave and the choir are long and tall, oh so tall, gothic sacredness oozing from every stone and piece of glass. Jen asks me where the labyrinth is and I reply that it is right in front of us, covered in chairs as expected.  The pattern in the stones peeps out at us from the aisle.  The entrance is there, inviting, beckoning, but we will have to wait until tomorrow when – hopefully! – the chairs will be gone.

9th August 7 am

I slowly remember, as I awake, that I am in Chartres and that this is the day for walking the labyrinth. It is difficult to put my finger on how I feel: Trepidation? In case the chairs are still there. Excitement? At the thought of walking the most famous labyrinth in the world. Disbelief? Because of the privilege and blessing of being able to be here at all.

9.15 am

We get to the Cathedral after breakfast in Macdonalds (!)  It is raining. We have umbrellas. We look inside and see chairs.  We feel despondent. Is the labyrinth really going to be uncovered by 10 o’clock? Yesterday, we both read a little book that suggested one should walk round the Cathedral before entering to walk the labyrinth and so this is what we decide to do. I go anti-clockwise and Jen goes clockwise. It is fascinating looking at the building from the outside and, somehow, it ‘places’ it and gives it solidity and meaning. We meet half-way and Jen is worried that the chairs will not be moved.  I think that, even if the chairs are not moved, it will still be a special experience. We part, and walk on, me praying that everything will be ok. I get back to the West front and there is no sign of Jen. It is 9.50 and I want to go in and check that all is well but think it would be better to wait for Jen and to go in together. I go into a little gift shop and admire the wares.  I come out at 9.57 to see Jen going in to the Cathedral without me. I walk across and, as she comes out again, she has her thumbs up! They are moving the chairs! I silently say ‘thank you, thank you, thank you’ but, on the outside, I say ‘Quick - I want to take a photo’.

9.59 am

We go in to the Cathedral and it seems that there are a lot of people with the same idea as us. There must be 50 or 60 people all waiting. We find a spot on the side of the labyrinth and I take pictures of the chairs being moved. The chairs are all attached to each other in rows so the task is not to difficult for the removers. One or two ‘ordinary’ people are helping them. Just for a moment, the labyrinth is clear and I capture it with my camera.

The next second, a young lady steps on to the path and the labyrinth will not be empty again for the rest of the day. One of the chair removers – a woman in practical working clothes – places lit candles at the labyrinth entrance. Suddenly, it is as if a spell has been broken. The waiting people surge forward, entering the labyrinth one by one in a continuous line. It is not long before the most famous labyrinth in the world is full of people at different stages on the path. We sit and observe but not for long. Jen gets up and goes to the entrance. She is in and I take a quick photo. Now I am on my own, praying, watching, noting. My main thought is that there are so many people! People watching, people waiting, people walking, people queuing now for the centre. Everyone on the labyrinth moves quietly, everyone is in their own individual world. Some walk more quickly but many walk slowly and so queue build up. I feel very moved. All these people – both genders, all ages, many nationalities are all together deeply involved in their own spirituality. This is accessible prayer, this is encountering God in a post-modern culture, this is worship – but not as we have known it. Yet it is an old form of spiritual pilgrimage. This labyrinth was laid in the floor in 1201. I am moved again. All those centuries, all those pilgrims, all that prayer, all that spirituality. And how amazing and beautiful that, when other Cathedrals were breaking up their labyrinths in the 16th and 17th centuries (because the purpose had been lost and children were distracting with using it for games) the one at Chartres was saved...

There is a long queue for the centre now and I know I don’t want to enter until it has died down a bit. Most of the people who had been waiting are now on the labyrinth. Jen is in the middle of the path somewhere. I wait longer.

Jen is in the queue for the centre. She gets there and waits on one of the petals. An older lady is having some sort of experience in the middle. She keeps crouching down – with pain? With ecstasy? Is she in a trance? Eventually she moves off and Jen has her time in the actual rectangular centre. Jen begins the journey out, retracing her steps. I finally get up. I follow the suggestion in the little book of walking around the labyrinth first and I walk close to the lunations at the edge. I have not yet decided how to do my walk. I think I will follow the pattern of ‘Release, receive, return’ but, just as I end my circumambulation, I read a banner that says there is new information about how the labyrinth was used in medieval times. They now think it was a symbolic journey following Christ through the evil vicissitudes of life, down to the underworld and then, conquering death and evil, back out to resurrection and new life. Dying with Christ, living with Christ. I decide to do this instead. I am back to the entrance. I have already taken my shoes off and now I pause before I enter. I pray, as usual, and offer the walk to God.

I am in. I walk slowly but not too slowly. Dying with Christ. However, I can’t concentrate on this although I keep coming back to it. There is too much else to think about and too many people. I try to take in that I am walking the Chartres labyrinth but it is difficult. When it comes down to it, this is a labyrinth like any other – stones on the floor, the familiar pattern. But, wait a moment, this is the pattern, this is the template, this is where Lauren Artress came in 1990 and set off a whole modern Christian labyrinth movement. Wow! And here I am, with all these other people, making them most of the weekly opportunity when the labyrinth is allowed space and air and the freedom of being what it is meant to be.

I am behind a very slow lady now. Every 2 or 3 steps, she rocks on her heels. I have slowed right down and am conscious of the people behind me. I can’t stand this... this is not how I want to walk... I overtake at a bend. Now I am going at my own pace but any spiritual reflection has been disrupted. I try again – I become conscious of my feet on the stone floor, the holes and pock marks in the stones, the man on the far side who seems to be taking photos of people’s feet, Jen taking photos of me, other companions on the way. There is another slow person now, a man. O dear. I overtake again.  And again. I am learning that I don’t have much patience when I can’t do things my own way (I guess I knew that anyway).

Dying with Christ, descending with Christ. Release on the outward journey, confess, offer... Now I am walking the path on the outside edge. I love the edge! I love the liminality. This is always my experience on the labyrinth and now I confirm to myself – I am an edge person! I don’t want to be too committed to other people’s things, I want to stay where I can observe, get out if necessary, do my own thing, do a new thing. But the edge doesn’t last and I have to come in again. Another overtaking and now I am approaching the centre. There is a short queue. People are standing in the petals waiting for the person in the middle to move. Still impatient, I step on a petal behind the occupant (I feel her surprise). I think of Lauren’s attribution of the petals: animal, vegetable, mineral, human beings, the angelic world and mystery. On the first petal, I thank God for all plant life, on the next for all creatures. On the mineral – for all elements and gemstones and rocks and things of the earth. On the human – thank you for people and on the angelic I wonder at the angels. On the mystery, I marvel at the wonder of God. I have gone round the petals each of them already occupied. Now I step in to the middle behind the person already there. I am only there necessarily briefly but time enough to feel that I have symbolically ‘died, and descended’ with Christ. I walk out again, having to constantly step off the path as I meet people coming in, but feeling lighter and more joyful as I contemplate the rising of Christ to new life.

Note (1): Jen and I both walk again later in the day when there are less people. This time I walk straight out – across the labrys – towards the high altar. The climax for me on this 2nd walk is the glorious altar and the east end.

Note (2): We stayed to watch what happened at 5 o’clock – the advertised end of the labyrinth opening. Around 4.50 a young security man stood at the entrance and advised newcomers that the labyrinth would close at 5. However, he didn’t actually stop the one or two people who still went on. A group of people who seemed to be together reached the centre of the labyrinth. A lady seemed to be leading them in – what I suspect was – a new age ritual of some sort. Soon after 5 the process started of putting back the chairs, the reverse of what had happened earlier in the day. It was completely weird, watching the labyrinth get covered up as one might watch the sea swallow up a temporary beach labyrinth.

And then – the labyrinth was gone, hidden under the chairs again. It was hard to believe that it had ever been and that all those people had walked it...

27th July

Jen and I have had tickets for some weeks for a Labyrinth Day in London although not being sure exactly what is involved. There turns out to be 30+ people (who are divided up into 5 teams each with a leader who knows what they are dong) who are going to spend the day walking and travelling on the Tube to visit several labyrinths of different types and sizes. We start at the main Quaker Meeting House in London for an introduction and for a viewing of an old labyrinthine design stuck in an old book of Quaker Minutes. We finish at a Mirror labyrinth (which, in my book, is not really a labyrinth) near what was the Olympic Park in Stratford. In the middle we visit the following:

Work of Art 'The Kings Cross Labyrinth' on a wall near Kings Cross

Fen Court Garden                                St Olave's Church                              Tower Hamlets Cemetery

We also, of course, admire the labyrinth 'tiles' at the underground stations we visit.
(see https://art.tfl.gov.uk/labyrinth/about)

3rd July 2019

The East Anglia District Pioneers' Forum is meeting at Piper's Mede in Holme Hale today where Geraldine and Sarah have their own home designed and built labyrinth in their garden:

23rd June 2019

Back in Norfolk, we decide to go to one of the regular Open Garden's at the Bishop's House in Norwich. I had forgotten it has a labyrinth and it is an enormous extra pleasure when we get there:

15th June 2019

Still in Kent, we walk a labyrinth at a place called Mount Ephraim Gardens.  It is a hybrid labyrinth - there are choices!  I treat it as a labyrinth and get us close to the middle but then there are 3 equal paths - very frustrating...

14th June 2019

Jen and I visit the labyrinth at the University overlooking the city of Canterbury during a few days away in Kent:

11th May 2019           
SO-CALLED MIZ MAZE ON ST CATHERINE’S HILL, WINCHESTER

I have an extra day on my short time away in Basingstoke and so decide to find the turf maze outside Winchester. I have walked 4 of the remaining 8 turf mazes in the country already and this will be the 5th.  Jane Austen Walk in Chawton one day and Labyrinth near Winchester the next – what’s not to like?!  The satnav takes me to the car park I have discovered through my research and, with the help of googlemaps, set off on the path I believe will take me to the steps that lead to the hill. It is a lovely walk along by the river Itchen and the sun keeps coming out. It is not long before I reach the nature reserve that is St Catherine’s hill (so-called because there was once a Norman Chapel on the top. Before that there was an Iron Age Hill Fort) and I contemplate the sturdy steps which, after climbing and counting them, I discover to number 331... At the top I start to look for the maze and begin to walk round the top of the hill.  I ask two ladies who don’t know what I am talking about. I head for the copse of trees that graces the top of the hill and once inside this shady area I spot, through a gap, the labyrinth.  Aha!

Having been reading up on the 3 Rs of Lauren Artress (Release, Receive, Return) I decide to try out this method of walking a labyrinth.  I begin to walk along the narrow stony path but it is not easy.  Like Saffron Walden this ‘maze’ has grass as the walls and the path is a kind of narrow trough. This one has been lined with white stones which are really rather knobbly.  I quickly abandon the 3 Rs idea. [I realise that, when walking a new labyrinth, it is difficult to settle in to actual spiritual ‘work’ especially if it is not in a religious setting. It is a bit like going to church in a strange place and not being able to settle to worship.  One needs the familiar setting in order to give oneself to the worship service or, indeed, to the labyrinth walk.]  But I do think of something religious – the rough path leads me to the chorus ‘when the road is rough and steep’. I continue singing to myself the song I learnt at Scripture Union Holiday Clubs as a child: ‘fix your eyes upon Jesus’ and I think that this is not a bad message for a labyrinth walk. The path is quite long (in fact, it takes me 13 minutes) and there is no clue as to where one is going next. For the first time on a labyrinth I am tempted to just hop across to a path nearer the centre!  Especially when I am extremely close to the centre. But I resist the temptation and allow the path to take me on, away, roundabout, goodness knows where. This morning I have written in my manuscript of my labyrinth book the word ‘metaphor’ and now I realise I have created my own illustration. The attraction of taking a short cut to the centre is a metaphor for things I have thought recently about my own stage in life. On my Sabbatical I was thinking how pleasant (and productive) it would to be retired but, in fact, this short-cut is not available to me and I have to go on – on the roundabout route of 5 more years.  And not just 5 more years but a new place, a new challenge, new responsibilities. I continue walking the unknown path of the labyrinth. Where on earth is this going now?!  My role in Central Norfolk is going to be like that. The path seems endless but then, suddenly and strangely (as always) the path takes a dive into the middle.  And the middle is large and spacious – plenty of room for people to gather for some sort of ritual or ceremony.  Another new thought comes to me: once you have spent nearly 15 minutes walking a narrow and stony and difficult path and come out into a broad area of comforting green grass, there is the temptation to feel that you own the space!  And so one does, I think, temporarily. I enjoy being there and owning it for a few minutes. On this occasion, I simply walk straight out – it seems the right thing to do.

4th May 2019             
WALKING OUR OWN TEMPORARY LABYRINTH AT ONE FOR PEACE ON WORLD LABYRINTH DAY

9 am

It is World Labyrinth Day and it is strange to think that it is a year since I travelled to Belper in Derbyshire for the event in a small Arts Centre on May 5th 2018.  Such a lot has happened in between!  I am sending an email to about a dozen contacts to wish them ‘Happy World Labyrinth Day’!  We are very pleased with our own homemade labyrinth – (mown into our back lawn 2 weeks ago) but not so pleased with the weather. The forecast is for sunshine and showers with occasional hail thrown in.  It is not that warm and we hope that the 8 people who have said that they will come will not be put off.

12 noon

M & B telephone to say that they set off to walk to our house but they hadn’t reckoned on the wind and have decided not to come even though I offer to go and get them.  This is a shame but H and C have both arrived separately so at least there are 4 of us. One other person arrives for soup at 12.15 and we have a nice lunch together.

1 pm

No-one else has turned up so the 5 of us go outside – it is sunny! – and, after an introduction from me, we use the little opening ceremony that I wrote this morning. Then we each walk into the centre, walk round the sundial in the middle, and walk out again – making our walk for peace in our hearts, our homes, our communities, our country and our world. Jen goes first and I go last – so that I can walk with C whose eyesight is not good. 

It feels special walking a labyrinth that I have designed, and mown, myself albeit in a contemporary and free flowing style!  As I lead C round I pray for peace – in the different levels I have already outlined.  It seems very peaceful in our garden and it is difficult to believe that, elsewhere in the world, a state of peace is so absent and/or so disrupted. We get to the centre and C opts for walking straight out.  I go back to the centre to make my walk out again but then a sixth person appears at the gate. Everyone else has finished walking now but V is happy to make her walk on her own whilst I finish my walking out and then walk prayerfully up and down the boundary – ‘holding’ the reflective space of the labyrinth.

1.30 pm

It hails...  But we are safely ensconced inside...

2 pm

Whilst we are having tea and biscuits, two more people arrive.  They are happy to walk and it is now sunny again.  I say I will walk again, and go first.

This time I am more reflective. I notice the grass and the flower beds and the flowers. Such beautiful flowers!  And a beautiful garden, and so peaceful... truly a place to walk for peace and to think about peace and to pray for peace.

On the evening of Tuesday 7th May I walk again with one other person.

I am going really slowly this time.  I am really looking at the grass (the weeds!), the flowers as I pass them, the structural objects in the garden.  I can hear the birds – a blackbird?  Everything seems vibrant and alive and how different the garden appears when experienced in this labyrinthine way...  I become part of the garden and not just an onlooker... and, strangely, I am drawn beyond the garden to the church over the wall, the surrounding trees, the clouds, the sky... it is all alive and beautiful and I am part of it...

24th April 2019          
LABYRINTH FOR HOLY WEEK IN SPROWSTON

It has been Staff Meeting this morning and I have shared my experience of the Sabbatical and the excitement of the labyrinths. Other Staff members share important things that have happened over Easter.  Catherine tells us about a simple labyrinth she made in the grass at the church at Sprowston – out of blue string and posts with a cross in the middle.  I ask if it is still there, and it is. So, as we have finished the meeting early I decide to give it a visit.

I pause at the entrance.This is a labyrinth with stations – very simple ones, just some writing on a post at each of the turns. I start to walk and am forced (in a good way) to reflect on Jesus’ journey to the Cross using the different stages written on the posts. I walk slowly in the sunshine, I am emotionally moved without being able to put thoughts or words to the emotion, it is always moving to reflect on what happened to Jesus in Holy Week.  The labyrinth becomes secondary, it is the journey to the cross that is important. I am only giving the stations on the posts a cursory glance but I am gathering their import and I know where I am on the journey. The path curls round and I arrive at the cross.  Since Sunday there has been an arrangement of roses placed at the foot but there is just room to squeeze round and finish the path right up to the cross itself. I read the notice hanging there and feel as though, in a strange way, I have yet again travelled to the cross with Jesus.

I turn round and walk out, conscious of the sunshine, the cherry blossom all along one side of the green, the children playing beyond. As always, the Christian journey is an interweaving of grief and joy, despair and hope. I notice that the blossom has shed petals, like tears, covering a wide area, many of them on the labyrinth. Tears of sorrow?  Tears of joy?  Both, I think, weeping for the actions of humankind but at the same time exulting in the greater power of God’s love and in the victory of Christ over death.  The victory is for us too, we are resurrection, Easter people and the Easter message propels me out of the labyrinth and back into the world in continued joyful service.

Labyrinths walked from April 2018 to April 2019

The Sabbatical walks are written up (with photos) in the separate link on this website - Blog on Sabbatical.

Sabbatical period

Labyrinth in Norwich Cathedral Cloisters (2): to end my Sabbatical 18.4.19.
Labyrinth at Westminster College, Cambridge: with Jen after our Civil Partnership 7.4.19.
Turf Labyrinth at Hilton, Cambs: 5.4.19.
Labyrinth in Hyde Park, Kansas City: 29.3.19.
Outdoor Labyrinth at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco: 25.3.19.
Community Labyrinth at Rossmoor, Walnut Creek, CA: 23.3.19.
Indoor Labyrinth at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco: 22.3.19.
Labyrinth at University of Kent, Canterbury: 16.3.19.
Labyrinth in St Michael's Hospice, Basingstoke: 15.3.19.
Labyrinth in Epiphany Church, Gipton, Leeds: 12.3.19.
Beach in private garden, Holme Hale, Norfolk: Ash Wednesday
Beach Labyrinth at Chouet, Guernsey: 1.3.19.
Labyrinth in small garden at Peterborough Cathedral: 25.2.19.
Labyrinth in Wakefield Cathedral: 23.2.19.
Turf Labyrinth in Alkborough, Lincolnshire 23.2.19.
Peace Labyrinth near Walltown Crags, Northumberland: 22.2.19.
Turf Labyrinth near Dalby, north Yorkshire: 22.2.19.
Labyrinth at Wydale Hall (2, 3, & 4): private stay 21/22.2.19.
Labyrinth at Cliff College (2): Supervision Training (2) February 2019
Labyrinth in the entrance to Ely Cathedral: 14.2.19.
Labyrinth in the Hospice Chapel at Oxford: 7.2.19.
Labyrinth in a redundant historic church at Itchen Stoke, Hampshire: 6.2.19.
Labyrinth in cliff top gardens at Seaton, Devon: 5.2.19.
Labyrinth at Ashburnham Place, Sussex: 26.1.19.
Turf Labyrinth at Saffron Walden, Cambs: on Jen's birthday 24.1.19.
Labyrinth at Cliff College, Derbyshire: on Supervision Training (1) January 2019

Before my Sabbatical

Labyrinth at Wensum Park Norwich (with Jen): end of December 2018
Labyrinth at Wydale Hall, Yorkshire: Morning Prayers at Women Ministers' Annual Gathering 6.11.18.
Labyrinth at Sheldon Retreat Centre, Devon: October 2018
Canvas labyrinth in Weston Room at Norwich Cathedral: at a Labyrinth Workshop 10.10.18.
Beach Labyrinth at Cromer: 29.9.18.
Canvas & Permanent labyrinths at the University of Bedford: on Veritidas Training Day 15.8.18.
Labyrinth in St Michael & All Angels, Abingdon: on holiday July 2018
Labyrinth in St Giles Cemetery, Oxford: on holiday July 2018
Labyrinth in Norwich Cathedral Cloisters
Rope Labyrinth on our front lawn for Wymondham Open Gardens: 1/2.6.18.
Labyrinth at Otley Hall, Suffolk: on a retreat day 31.5.18.
Temporary Labyrinth created at Belper Arts Centre, Derbyshire for World Labyrinth Day: 5.5.18.
Labyrinth at Wigwam Retreat Centre, Riddlesworth, Norfolk: 18.4.18.