The Labyrinths & Prayer Garden
The Parish grounds are graced by a replica of the Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth and a lovely prayer garden on the north side of the Sanctuary, drawing one to prayer, meditation and contemplation. The outdoor labyrinth is open dawn to dusk daily.
The prayer garden, located just beyond the wrought iron gate, is also available to those seeking quiet and solitude.
A canvas labyrinth is available for use during special events and when weather is inclement.
For more information on labyrinths, walking the labyrinth, and upcoming events, further information can be obtained by clicking on the menu to the right.
What is a labyrinth?
The labyrinth is a sacred pattern, an ancient mystical tool that can help us quiet the mind and create a space for self-reflection and prayer. It is not a maze. There is only one path in, one path out. Labyrinths are usually in the form of a circle with a meandering but purposeful path. While there are many forms of the labyrinth, the Chartres style is reflected in St. Mark’s labyrinths.
The Rev. Dr Lauren Artress suggests, “The labyrinth is a sacred pattern that can put us in direct contact with our true heritage as spiritual beings. It awakens within us a memory of our true nature.” The labyrinth is a mandala, an archetype, a divine imprint, found in most religious traditions in various forms around the world.
What is the symbolism of the labyrinth?
The labyrinth is a metaphor for the three-fold path. The path toward the center is the Path of Release ~~ shedding, letting go, or cleansing. The center is the Path of Illumination ~~ the Path of Light or the Presence of the Divine. The journey outward is the Path of Union ~~ the path of bringing the Spirit’s Presence with us into the world and our daily lives.
The labyrinth is divided horizontally and vertically, reflecting a cross. The cross is a well-known symbol in Christianity as well as other traditions. The vertical portion is the symbol of Spirit, descending to earth from above. The horizontal section is a metaphor for matter (or man in physical form). At the intersection, humankind in physical form meets Spirit.
The center is a rose, a symbol of love and beauty. In Christianity, the rose also represents Christ. The petals of the rose represent the different states of The Great Chain of Being. Beginning at the lower left and moving clockwise, the petals represent:
- The mineral world ~~ the State of Being,
- The vegetable world ~~ the State of Growing,
- The animal world ~~ the State of Feeling,
- The human world ~~ the State of Thinking,
- The angelic world ~~ the State of Knowing, and
- The world of Divine Mystery ~~ The State of Unknowing.
Why walk the labyrinth?
By walking a replica of the Chartres-style labyrinth, which was laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France around 1201, a long-forgotten mystical tradition is reborn. This spiritual practice can awaken us to the deep rhythms that unite us to ourselves, our communities and to Wisdom. The journey is not to figure out how to get to the center, but simply how to take the next step on our spiritual path, toward our True Center.