Have you ever been kissed under the mistletoe, in a church, at the center of a labyrinth?
If you’re looking for a new way to step into the New Year, tonight’s the night!
On Dec. 31, 2006, I took my boyfriend to Church of the Servant in Wilmington, to celebrate the New Year with a different rite of passage: walking the labyrinth in a candlelit sanctuary. A labyrinth veteran, I’d extended the invitation to a novice on the path. That he agreed to it was in itself a good sign. That he followed me quietly on the long and winding road was a bonus. And that he kissed me at the center, under the mistletoe, was the proof that he was “the one.” We’ve since walked the labyrinth together many times, an experience that keeps binding us closer.
One of over 1,200 labyrinths in the USA, the labyrinth at Church of the Servant is the exact replica of the labyrinth in my hometown cathedral in France, Notre Dame de Chartres. By a twist of fate, I’ve come all the way across time and the Atlantic Ocean to America, to walk on what was always there at home, unbeknownst to me, at the time hidden under the chairs, fallen out of use.
Circular, the path winds itself eleven times in four large quadrants before reaching the center, a six-petal rose or “rosette.” From there, the way in becomes the way out. As stated on the pamphlet available at the church and titled “Experience the Labyrinth,” “This labyrinth has only one path so there are no tricks to it and no dead ends.”
The walk can be akin to a process of self-transformation, progressing in three stages.
– The first stage, walking in, is like shedding old ideas, habits or unwanted thoughts. The physicality of it quiets the mind and relaxes the body.
– The second stage, sitting on the floor or in a chair at the center, is a place to meditate, pray, listen for answers or even experience a feeling of illumination.
– The third stage, walking out, retraces one’s steps back to the entrance to re-enter the world empowered by the union with the Divine.
Although pre-Christian structures exist dating as far back as 3,500 years and stretching from India to Crete and Hopi traditions, labyrinths also were installed in 13th-century French cathedrals. In times troubled by the Crusades, walking the labyrinth became, for the faithful, a symbolic pilgrimage to Jerusalem, a safe rite of passage to the Holy City.
In 1995, Lauren Artress pioneered a labyrinth renaissance in the USA with her book “Walking A Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool,” and the labyrinth she helped create in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. The labyrinth in Chartres was chosen as the template.
You can walk the labyrinth tonight 9 p.m.- 12:30 a.m. at Church of the Servant, 4925 Oriole Drive. Journals are provided with pens and colored pencils, along with prayers and questions to contemplate on the threshold of the New Year. Or you can stand at the entrance and simply hold an intention in mind, such as Inner Peace or Prosperity, or ask a question and let the walking reveal the answer, step by step, breath by breath.
If you cannot stay up late past midnight on Saturday Dec. 31, you may want to join in a World Peace Meditation at 7 p.m. at Unity of Wilmington, 717 Orchard Avenue, or greet the New Year on 11 a.m. Sunday Jan. 1, also at Unity, with a Burning Bowl Ceremony to “bring the light of awareness to the past so we can release all that no longer serves us.”
Either way, you’ll step into the New Year much Light-er!
Happy New Year, filled with Blessings of Love and Light, Health and Wealth!