Saturday, January 16, 2010


For Charan

This labyrinth of mind calls to my SOUL
To reach the SELF, a heartfelt goal
Enter this path to a center place
Hold to this knowing, your WILL to trace
The circle, the spiral, a labyrinth does make
A purposeful path, a journey to take
A circuitous travel to the center DIVINE
Within, without, be this journey mine
Know I of this center, its silent roar
Within, without, my SPIRIT to soar.

Rose Marie Raccioppi

Ritratto di gentiluomo, 1512, Rome, Italy, Palazzo Barberini, Bartolomeo Veneto, active 1502 - 1546, Italian painter.
click on image for a beautifully detailed larger view

The earliest known Christian labyrinth is located in a church in Algeria, with the words Sancta Eclesia (holy church) inscribed in its center. As early as A.D. 350, worshipers entering the church would trace the labyrinth with their finger in order to focus their thoughts and open themselves up to the presence of God.

In the Middle Ages, many cathedrals in Europe began to construct larger labyrinths. Christians who could not make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem would instead travel to these cathedrals to walk the labyrinth as a spiritual pilgrimage, symbolizing the journey to the Holy Land. The labyrinth in the floor of the nave at Chartres Cathedral in France is the most well known of the medieval designs.

The labyrinth is composed of eleven circuits and is divided into four quadrants, clearly defined by a cross. The center of the labyrinth is a rose-shaped area for resting, prayer, or meditation. To walk a labyrinth is to provide yourself with a very personal experience. Some people walk with the intention of addressing an issue in their lives, others to pray and meditate. Walk between the lines of the circuit. The center is a place to pause, reflect, and receive insight. Walking the path back out of the labyrinth is a time for deep reflection and to consider its special meaning for you.

I have walked. Each step a loving memory. Each memory a living grace.

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.
~Robert Frost~
and so the echoes of heart, soul, and quest, be heard...
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  1. Hi RoseMarie-
    Lovely words to bring forth the journey of the labyrinth. I walked a labyrinth at a place called 'The Mercy Center' that sits on the water over looking Long Island Sound - it is a retreat center and some of the 'Sisters of Mercy' live and work there. I also spent a weekend there in a suite on the water after the priest__________, the other priest actually arranged the weekend for me - after Daniel hurt me and James was the saviour until he left the church. Complicated time. Anyway, eventually I joined a women's spirituality group and we walked the labyrinth at the Mercy Center - and it was wonderful - our group was wonderful for a time - until one of our members was becoming a congregationalist minister and she took me aside and said that I could not attend her ordination celebration because she had to invite James (who was now a congregationalist minister) and she thought it would be awkward. Imagine my my journey on the labyrinth has many turns and circles and many whom I have followed and whom have followed me - and my memories are vast and true from the outer circle to the center.

    Sorry for rambling...

    Love Gail

  2. Gail, recounting is not rambling. I so appreciate how meaningfully you respond to my posts. I have wanted to convert my yard to a labyrinth ever since I walked one many moons back.

    I ran a weekend workshop several years ago in which the path of the labyrinth was accompanied by each selecting streamers of two colors from the seven colors of the rainbow - one streamer for each hand to be waved as one walked. The background music was of Enya. It created such shared joy and community among the participants. To this day I can feel the love that was touched.

    Much love to you Gail.

  3. i walked a meditation labyrinth once myself...there is a pretty cool one online as well...really need to find the link.

  4. Brian, I have a 'portable' labyrinth that is the size of a king size bed sheet - use it with my students - to bring them closer to understanding: awareness - focus - confront - action - resolve... Works! Love to you and yours...

  5. Until I read your delighful piece I didn't know of such an interpretation of 'labyrinth'. Your poem fills out this meaning very well and a good poem too.

  6. Thank You John, And so intention fulfilled - our quest as poets.

  7. I, too, cherish the journey, the peace, and the focus. I have been following A Labyrinth Pilgrimage in the Cross Labyrinth for the past few years during Lent, and enjoy inviting others to share the experience. Thank you for letting me share yours, too.

    Grace and peace,
    Follow the Path!