Friday, 13 April 2018

A to Z Challenge - L is for Labyrinth

Writing in the 4th century, Augustine penned, “all problems can be solved by a walk.”  While he may have been a tad overly optimistic, I know that in my experience, a walk settles me, gives me time for perspective, a cooler head to prevail and often opens to me a solution to what ails me.
Neither the location nor the pace seems to matter.

A stroll along the beach, a hike in the forest,

...or a power walk along the street where I live, all afford me benefits beyond just steps on my pedometer.

A dozen or so years ago, a colleague introduced me to the path of a labyrinth.

Medieval Labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral, dates from the 11th century
I was skeptical - how could walking around in circles be of any value? It took some months, more than a few walks around the winding paths before I discovered that a labyrinth walk can soothe, comfort, and for me, deepen sacred relationships. It proved to be a walking meditation that traced the journey of my life: circuitous, complex, and anything but a straight line.

In 2006 my colleague and I scribed over half a mile of pathway into the ground in the backyard of the church where we worked. It took the two of us about five full days of bone-jarring, muscle-vibrating work with a weed-whacker to etch an 11 circuit Chartres Labyrinth into the ground.

Some years later we fashioned a wall hanging for a local dance company to use in a dramatic portrayal of human spirituality. The four corner colours, represent, clockwise from the bottom left, earth, wind, fire, and water.

Also a Chartres (medieval) pattern, this wall hanging adorns the space above the fireplace in my living room. I look across to it from my kitchen and if I linger there a bit, I am able to recall the comfort and serenity that I was gifted with on so many labyrinth walks.

When I'm traveling, if I discover a labyrinth nearby, I will drop by and if the spirit moves me, take a stroll along the path.

Five Oaks Retreat Centre, Brant Ontario

Bath, England

Sometimes I can let my fingers do the walking...

San Martino Cathedral, Lucca Italy;
labyrinth dates from the 12th to 13th century

Labyrinths are good for me when I am tired of words.

Loretto Maryholme Retreat Centre, Roches Point Ontario

©2018 April Hoeller


  1. Oh! My! Soul sister.
    You know how much walks do for me:) Thank you for the beautiful shots April.
    I'm yet to walk a labyrinth but after reading this post I'm looking forward to finding one.
    Mazes were fun to maneuver with our children when they were young and there are quite a few of those in England.
    Your art work and ground work are both very impressive.
    L is for Laitlum Canyon

    1. So glad to have along for all the walks, Arti. There is something quite unique about the experience of a labyrinth walk. Evocative, calming, intriguing and more.

  2. What a wonderful wander around the labyrinths! I've only walked a few, but each time has been a very powerful experience.

    1. Thank you, Deborah. Labyrinths are truly unique and in my walking, each time is different; sometimes powerful, sometimes serene, sometimes just rest for a weary soul.