A labyrinth is not a maze. There are no looming walls or confusing hedges. A labyrinth is a circuitous, meditative, flat path that guides its walker in one direction. Its single pathway winds gently toward a center point and back outward along the same route.
Based on the circle – the universal symbol of unity and wholeness – a labyrinth is a spiritual tool for growth, discernment, prayer, and healing. There is no wrong way to walk a labyrinth as there is only one path; there are no worrisome tricks, decisions, or dead ends to navigate.
The labyrinth simply invites its walker to put one foot in front of the other and enjoy a journey of movement. Walking a labyrinth grounds the body in a physical experience that can help free the mind to relax enough to engage with the Spirit.
Labyrinths have many applications in public settings such as churches, community centers, hospitals, schools, and parks. People walk labyrinths to reduce stress, to celebrate joyous events, and to pray.
Although labyrinths can be of different sizes, shapes, and designs, the two labyrinths of the Duncan Conference Center are both based on an ancient Christian pattern found in Chartres Cathedral, located just outside of Paris, France.
It is believed that the Medieval Eleven-Circuit Labyrinth was installed around 1201 in the nave of Chartres, possibly serving as a metaphor for the pilgrimage to the Holy Land that was too dangerous for most walkers in the Middle Ages to make.