The ancient symbol of a labyrinth relates to the concept of wholeness. By combining the imagery of a circle with a spiral, traditional labyrinths offer a meandering path with purposeful meaning. Walking the labyrinth offers a journey to the center of the maze and back out again. It is not meant to confuse or frustrate the walker. Rather, the gift of the labyrinth is to soothe, to comfort, to offer insight and reflection.
Perhaps, the most famous labyrinth is preserved within the nave of Chartres Cathedral in France. Built around 1200, it was intended to be walked as a pilgrimage in order to become closer to God. Labyrinths have been found all over the world — some dating back 4,000 years. All too often their origins lost in the mists of time.
The philosophical idea that if we had eyes powerful enough to see exactly what is happening, we would realize that even the most stable thing in the universe is actually changing all the time, is mirrored in the construction of a labyrinth. The structure of the labyrinth reminds us to trust in the flow of the universe. Walking the path reminds us to trust our intuition, stay on the path — essentially to walk the walk.
This weekend my husband built a labyrinth. It was a pretty inspired move. For us, the labyrinth served as a ceremonial finish to our long awaited apple harvest. The back story on the harvest includes two smallish granny smith apple trees that had previously yielded one or two squirrel nibbled offerings each season. This year with some timely nurturance and delicate care the trees produced 28 big, fat apple gems.
The truth is it can be tough to infuse our daily life with meaning and reverence. An apple harvest is as good an excuse as any for reminding us to slow down and celebrate the abundance of life. Walking the labyrinth this weekend, I found myself reminded that we are all exactly where we are meant to be right now. Just like those sweet little trees, we all blossom at the perfect moment to shine our absolute brightest.