Sunday, December 22, 2013

Solstice labyrinth

Solstice! Let there be Light.

We drove half an hour in the darkness last night to a church three towns over that had created a candlelit labyrinth in their open sanctuary. I'd walked a labyrinth years ago by myself on an outdoor path and remembered it as a peaceful experience. But never one lit by candles, and never one on the longest night of the year.

The idea is that we're on a journey. We walk the maze of the labyrinth not knowing where we're going.  We arrive at the center. Then we walk back out. It can be a meditation, religious or spiritual. Or something else, perhaps.

The labyrinth was like the one at Chartres; here's the design:


The path was shaped by 400 tea lights within white luminaria bags, like this:


Within the sanctuary, this is something like how it looked:


One at a time, about a minute apart, we entered the labyrinth to quiet non-melodic music. There was a path in front of me about three feet wide. I could only see a few feet ahead and the path revealed itself gradually. I felt very alone, a little afraid, but trusting that the lights would lead me. And they did - to the center of the labyrinth and a single tall candle, where I gazed into the flame. Then I retraced my steps to the beginning of the labyrinth. When you're done, you can sit quietly or you can leave. We stayed.

There were about 60 people who walked the labyrinth, from elementary school age children to retired folks.  At any given time there were four to nine people walking. From outside the labyrinth, in the semidarkness, they looked like wandering ghosts, moving randomly. But I knew that each was on the same path, in a different place. Sometimes a person moving toward the center met a person returning. When that happened, the person returning stepped aside to allow the other to continue on their path. It was like an act of kindness and honoring from the returning person.

There are mazes all over the world, some from ancient times. We who are living now have the same hopes and yearnings and wonderings as those from centuries ago. We all walk the same path.

Let there be Light!

18 comments:

Meryl Baer said...

What a unique experience. I bet you do this every year from now on.

#1Nana said...

What an interesting experience.

Barb said...

How lovely. My church in Dallas had a labrynth and we walked it especially during lent quiet days.

My new church now has an evening cancle light service that includes gregorian chant and ten to fifteen minutes of silent meditation-which I am finding challenging.

Linda Reeder said...

While I am not one for meditation - I do my best thinking when I am active - I do like this celebration of the solstice. This is something I could get into. Thanks for sharing it.

Terra said...

Beautiful ceremony.

Tom Sightings said...

Nice. I've experienced the white luminaria bags at our local Relay for Life event ... they are very moving.

Olga said...

Interesting and appropriate way to spend the longest night of the year. The sun will eventually return, just as we trust it to do.

Arkansas Patti said...

This is the second blog to feature the tea lights in paper sacks. The other blog uses them as outdoor decorations. I really like the look and think the labyrinth is a neat idea.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

It sounds like such a uniquely spiritual experience, walking a path, unable to see much ahead, feeling lonely at times and with anticipation at other times. Sounds so like life in general.

DJan said...

This sounds like it was a wonderful experience, and just the right thing to send you on the next part of your adventure. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Linda. And thank you for being part of my blogging family. :-)

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

That sounds lovely. I like the idea of a ritual to honor the solstice.

Out on the prairie said...

Never given it a try, but it sounds interesting. Went to a few winter solstice parties at the
Wallace Foundation. Henry Wallace was big on all of this.

Perpetua said...

The labyrinth experience can be amazing. Happy Christmas, Linda.

Grandmother (Mary) said...

I walked the labyrinth in Grace Cathedral a number of years ago with my daughter during a women's retreat where we stayed in the sanctuary overnight. It was a profound experience. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

MyMaracas said...

What a wondrous experience. I've never walked a labyrinth, but I'd like to - especially one lit by candles. Thanks for sharing.

Cynthia said...

How wonderful! I've never walked a candlelit one either, and I think inside a church would make it even more spiritual and meaningful.

Joanne Noragon said...

This is beautiful. Luminaries stir my heart, what an experience this would be.

Deere Driver said...

Happy New Year Linda! Just catching up.
I'm hoping that next year I can celebrate the solstice like this in my own little labyrinth. Working on a plan for my front yard. Also want to get rid of the grass, so practical and spiritual.