Walking a Labyrinth (Part 1)

by Dr. Karen Oliveto, Pastor
Recently, I had the opportunity to walk a labyrinth  with participants of GLIDE’s Women’s Center.

Often, people think of labyrinths as mazes, but they are really not the same at all. Mazes are puzzles to be solved, with many choices about which path to take, some which even lead to dead ends. Labyrinths have only one path, and the same path that leads you to the center of the circle leads you back out again. It is a way to move to our center and then out into the world again.
In ancient times, labyrinths were used as a symbolic pilgrimage. For those who were too poor to travel to holy sites, walking and praying on the labyrinth was a way to make the pilgrimage.
I have walked outdoor labyrinths at Grace Cathedral overlooking San Francisco from Nob Hill, in a quiet wooded area  and on a tiny peninsula in Hawaii as waves crashed around me. Walking the labyrinth inside GLIDE’s Freedom Hall was powerful.  All the familiar smells and sounds of GLIDE took on new meaning as I walked quietly along the labyrinth’s path.  I was reminded of just how busy GLIDE is as we welcome people to share a meal, find a shelter bed, receive health care.  It is a bustling crossroads where all sorts of humanity come together.
Taking that quiet path created a place of rest in my soul, and enabled me to be more open to those I met outside the labyrinth.  It is so easy to be consumed by the busy-ness of our lives and work. Pausing to regain our center is essential if we are to offer healing and justice in the world.
How do you pause to regain your center when you are caught up in life’s busy-ness?  Do your take a pilgrimage to your sacred center? What path do you walk that offers you wholeness?
For more information on labyrinths, see The Sacred Labyrinth Walk.