The newsletter of AMERICAN TRAILS -- NEW YEARS 1998

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Labyrinth walking: an ancient spiritual path

Although ancient in concept, labyrinth paths are currently enjoying a revival in the United States as well as elsewhere in the world as a new form of environmentally friendly tourism. What is a labyrinth? It is like two-dimensional maze: a curving, twisting path that leads to a point at the center. Unlike a maze, the path is clear, rather than deviously disguised. In spiritual terms, the labyrinth is both a discipline and a form of meditation.

Prevention Magazine's Sept. 1997 issue featured labyrinths, and described of the experience that many people find relaxing:"The effortless concentration and movement of following the winding path deepens breathing and helps bring about a release of tension. People say that walking the labyrinth helps them solve lproblems or find inspiration. Others use it as a simple focusing tool at the beginning of the day or before starting a new project.

The Veriditas Web site [see below] says that walking a labyrinth is a metaphor for the spiritual journey. Going in, walkers release cares and concerns; the center is a place of prayer and meditation; the walk out to the larger world grants power to act.

The newest labyrinth is probably the Cathedral Labyrinth in New Harmony, Indiana. Built of polished carnelian granite, the 42-foot round pathway cost $250,000. It mirrors the 12th Century labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France. Along with landscaping and gardens that change with the seasons, the Cathedral Labyrinth is the centerpiece of a tranquil, Eastern-influenced Sacred Garden.

For more information on labyrinths:

-- The Labyrinth Revival, by Robert Ferre, published by One Way Press (1996)

-- Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool covers the subject well. It is by Lauren Artress and published by Riverhead Books (1995)

-- St. Louis Labyrinth Project, 3124 Gurney Ave., St. Louis MO 63116 (314) 771-2209; Web site: www.1heart.com/labyrinth.html (Books, videos, and other materials)

-- Veriditas Project at Grace Cathedral: Http://gracecom.org

A sampling of labyrinth paths