by Beth Simmons Stapor, PhD
This July I celebrated my 50th year of life. What a glorious celebration it was. It was the perfect weekend. It began with two very dear friends taking me to a wonderful lunch, which not only included great food, but also real heart connections. The warm feelings from lunch led into an evening of sharing with friends at a surprise party given for me by two of my best friends here in Cookeville. The next morning two friends and I left for the ‘mountain’ or University of the South at Sewanee, TN to attend a Labyrinth Workshop.
Labyrinths have fascinated me since I first visited Chartres Cathedral in France where one of the few remaining original classical eleven circuit labyrinths is laid out in stone on the main floor. A labyrinth is not a maze. There are no tricks or challenges to the walk, you simply enter and exit at the same spot. After you enter, you walk the circles which meander throughout the whole circle going through 34 turns, getting close to the center, and then going to the outer edge only to wind your way back to the center again. In the center is a rosette with 6 petals symbolizing mineral, vegetable, animal, human, angelic and the unknown.
The walk into the labyrinth is known as purgation, where you ‘purge’, release, empty and quiet your mind, body, soul and spirit. It is there that we let go of things that block communication with our Spirit source and let go of control. The second stage is in the center and is called illumination. The illogical winding path that takes us there culminates in us realizing we are there, fully present in the moment. It is a time of prayer and meditation and clarity of life and our problems. Union is the stage where we leave the center following the same path out, feeling grounded, empowered and integrating the information we have learned to help us on our journey of life. During the entire walk we spend time with Spirit in silence, listening for answers to the questions we brought into the labyrinth.
The labyrinth is located under trees with the paths outlined with bricks. I would like to share with you some of what I wrote down after my two experiences in the labyrinth. The first time was during the afternoon, Here is my experience: entering the unknown, what does the labyrinth hold for me? I begin feeling the wind, the earth under my bare feet. I find that I can get so close to the center, only not to be there. There is a message in this for my life. Then I hear “blessed are you” you are on the right pathway. Peace that passes all understanding – all things in their own time. Learn to let go of that you cannot control. Be aware when your ego is driving you; move out of a place of ego. Don’t do things for man reasons; do them for Spirit reasons. I pass through the light and shadow’s of the afternoon reflecting onto the path. Am I in Spirit’s light or in the shadows? It is my personal choice. The path also mirrors the light and shadow self. I need to examine my shadow self and let it go. When I enter the center I feel angels surrounding me. I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.
I exit the center feeling air under my feet. My steps are light and easy, then deliberate steps, slowly taking the walk out, contemplative, I am enhanced by the energy of the path I have walked. I am aware that I have been connecting with Reiki energy with each step I have taken as I walked barefoot along the path.
My second time through the labyrinth was at twilight. There were torches of fire surrounding the circle. I was at peace. I entered the circle reverently, hands in prayer position, again deliberate slow steps. I notice as I walk the circles that my hands begin to feel very warm, I realize that Reiki is flowing throughout my entire being. It was very sacred, spiritual, an awareness of people long ago walking, turning, stopping, praying, and thinking. As I get to the center I immediately fall to my knees and offer myself to Spirit. I felt as if I received Spirit’s blessing for the healer I have been, the healer I am, and the healer I am to become. I felt like a humble servant, I give thanks. I begin my walk out feeling like a child, full of wonder, awe, I begin to look upward to the skies, I see fireflies, one zooms by my nose, and I giggle. There are night sounds now. The path darkens such that I have to feel my way out. As I leave I am elated, feeling that I have experienced a deep spiritual ceremony.
Our workshop presenter told us that every time someone walks the labyrinth, the earth receives a healing. We know that Reiki works to heal Mother Earth. Adding Reiki to a labyrinth walk is a powerful way to send healing and peace to all people on the planet…I hope that each one of you has the opportunity to experience the wonderful healing experience of a labyrinth. What a gift of healing for yourself and for Earth.