A labyrinth is a spiritual tool for prayer and meditation. It is a walking prayer; and prayer in motion. Walking the labyrinth makes one available to God, and, thus, to transformation and healing. John Calvin wrote that “prayer is properly understood as an emotion of the heart within, which is poured out and laid open before God, the searcher of hearts.” He also reminded us that Jesus himself taught us to “seek a retreat that would help us to descend into our heart with our whole thought and enter deeply within.” (Institutes, III.xx.29)
Physically, a labyrinth is a large circle-design with a single path that winds back and forth, ending in a center circle. It is not a maze with dead ends challenging you to see if you can find your way out of being lost.
Our labyrinth is patterned after the one found in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France. It is an ancient spiritual tool. The one in Chartres was built in the 12th century. It is a classical or 11 circuit design. During the Medieval Period when it was expensive and dangerous to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, many cathedrals built labyrinths. People would make a pilgrimage to the cathedral and walk the labyrinth.