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Labyrinth offers unique spiritual journey

March 25, 2002|BY MARLO BARNHART

A unique spiritual journey is being offered at First Christian Church during Holy Week to anyone willing to shed shoes and doubts to achieve inner peace.

Spread out over the floor of the church's fellowship hall, the 36-foot circular sacred design is painted on canvas and laid on the floor ... to be walked as a journey to spiritual meditation.

"The journey inward is to discover," said the Rev. Fred Harris, senior minister at First Christian. "The entire concept is a metaphor for life's spiritual journey."

The design requires the walker to begin at the outside of the circle, then move slowly toward the center before winding out slowly again using the same path.

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Harris explained that by walking this replica of the Chartres Labyrinth in France, created in 1220, the walker soon discovers there is only one path ... no tricks and no dead ends.

"It's not a maze," Harris said. "You walk to the center and back, using the labyrinth as a spiritual tool to help you focus."

Last year, the labyrinth was set up for the first time during Holy Week but only the First Christian congregation made use of it, said member Sam Reel, who helped spearhead the project.

Connie Richardson described walking the labyrinth as a chance for quiet meditation. "It's so difficult to find and take that time in our world," she said. "You feel so rested and refreshed after the walk."

The labyrinth will be open today through Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. On Maundy Thursday, the hours are 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 to 9 p.m.

The Good Friday hours are 3 to 6 p.m.

Reel said he recently returned from the Washington National Cathedral, where a labyrinth was already in place.

"You learn a lot from watching others go through it," Reel said. "People sitting outside the circle seemed to be experiencing the emotions of some of those making the journey."

While some people can pray in a group or alone, others need to move to focus on God's presence, Harris said.

Walkers are urged to prepare as they enter by quieting and settling their thoughts. As they begin to walk, there is a further releasing of the details of life as the center is approached.

Once the center is reached, walkers are encouraged to stay and rest, meditate and pray.

Leaving the center and retracing the path is thought to enable a union with God or a higher power.

All are invited to this free event. Harris stressed that it is a spiritual experience rather than just a Christian one, so all faiths are welcome.

There are few rules other than removing shoes (slippers are allowed), walking at one's own pace and respecting others and their space.

For more information, call 301-733-0144.

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