Christian growth as well as many other spiritual awakenings use the image of a journey or path to illustrate the movement and growth of an individual through space and time. The idea of journeying is not unique to the Christian tradition, but it has been incorporated for much of Christian history. Journeys to the Holy Land and sacred sites represented a physical travelling experience, but around the year 1200 A.D., the Chartres Cathedral incorporated a walking path into the floor of the cathedral for faithful Christians and those unable to physically journey to the Holy Land to walk or seek repentance for their sins. This walking path in that Cathedral is now a well-known spiritual practice tool called the Chartres labyrinth and has inspired many other churches and sacred sites to install their own versions of this spiritual walking path.
Slumber Falls Camp has used labyrinths over the years to assist campers, retreatants, and guests to explore the spiritual benefits of this ancient practice. Some of these labyrinths were portable and on canvas or tarps and others were constructed from the limestone rocks that “grow” on the property. The recent installation of the SFC Labyrinth was made possible by the St. John’s UCC, Burton, TX Charity Grant. The new labyrinth designed in the classical style is a 20-foot by 20-foot stone slab with etched lines and stained concrete.
Since there is no set method or guidelines for walking a labyrinth, seekers are able to adapt or shape the experience to what works for them. For newcomers to this tradition, basic advice is to take a few deep breaths, prepare the mind for the experience, and enter the labyrinth slowly. Guests are able to enter into a meditative state to experience this ancient spiritual discipline in order to help them deepen their relationship with God, connect to creation in more profound ways, explore life’s mysteries and challenges, and seek self-awareness or betterment, just to name a few. Once the center is reached, the walker can circle the middle to continue the movement, pause and reflect, or even listen for deeper revelation. Following the time in the center, the walker continues the journeys outward in continued prayer, reflection, or thought. Upon exiting the labyrinth, guests are encouraged to absorb the experience (continued reflection, journaling, prayer, etc.) in order to process what just transpired. This allows the seeker to be fully present on the path but allows for awareness and an opening of the senses for further growth.
Some guests have already taken advantage of this new addition to Slumber Falls Camp, and it is listed on the Labyrinth locator (https://labyrinthlocator.com/) so that people wishing to walk a labyrinth can visit the camp during times when groups are not present. If you are in the area or if you think your church or favorite group of people could benefit from a spiritual retreat, I would encourage you to contact the office to talk about options. Developing our own spiritual acumen or insightfulness is critical to our development and spiritual maturity. Experiencing new way to connect to God broadens our awareness and provides us with a stronger foundation to help others discover God in their midst, an understanding of why participating in a healthy, church is a very, good thing, and a desire to mold their world-view lenses from a divine model versus a material or secular one. Our ability to realize the realm of God here on Earth will be much easier when others value or at least understand the importance of love permeating our thoughts, actions, and policies and lifting up other fruits of the spirit that can be nurtured in the world. The transformation of the world was not a military conquest as believed in the Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament, but one of personal transformation that can then transform the world as Jesus believed, taught, and showed through his actions. I hope our paths cross soon and that our ministries synergize from one another so that lives are touched and transformed in powerful ways.