Friday, May 27, 2005

Walk to center onesself


Express Staff Writer

A stop at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Ketchum on Sunday, May 29, doesn't mean you'll suddenly become Episcopalian. In fact, the church, long known for its inclusiveness, is hoping folks will stop by for other reasons, though they are spiritual as well. One event may center one's spirit while the other may lift one's spirit.

The Community Labyrinth Committee is hosting a walk at St. Thomas on Sunday, May 29, after the 9:30 a.m. service at approximately 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Geshe Michael Roach, the first American born Tibetan monk, who is in Sun Valley for the annual Wellness Festival, is making a presentation immediately after the walk, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Mazes and labyrinths have long held the imagination of people for centuries. A maze might have high walls be easy to get lost in, while a labyrinth is something equally mysterious but also spiritual.

According to Jeff Saward, author of "Labyrinths & Mazes," the first labyrinth symbol discovered is approximately 4,000 years old.

Indeed, an ancient symbol for wholeness, a labyrinth path represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world.

"No special permission is needed to walk the labyrinth at anytime," said St. Thomas administrator Susan Springer. "What people don't know is that it's while it can be quiet you can also dance through it, children can skip through it, there can be music."

In fact, at the walk on Sunday, there will be music and drumming with 11 a.m.-noon Gary Grimes, Art Wallace noon-1 p.m. and chanting by Amy Clifford, 1-2 p.m.

Many patterns are based on spirals from nature. A classic labyrinth has seven concentric pathways surrounding its center. In Native American culture, it's called the Medicine Wheel, and the Celts describe it as the Never Ending Circle. In mystical Judaism the Kabbalah Tree of Life is also represented by concentric spheres. One feature they all share is one path that winds in a circuitous way to the center. A maze, however, has choices of direction.

The Community Labyrinth was built in 2002 and is based on the classic Chartes Cathedral Labyrinth in France.

Another labyrinth can be found at St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center in its healing garden.

Some general guidelines for walking a labyrinth are:

1. Focus by pausing at the entrance. Become centered. Give acknowledgment through a bow, nod, or other gesture and then enter.

2. Walk purposefully while observing the process. When you reach the center, stay there and focus several moments. Leave when it seems appropriate. Be attentive on the way out.

3. When leaving turn and face the entrance. Give an acknowledgement of ending, such as " 'cha" or "Right on" or even "Amen."

4. After walking the labyrinth reflect back on your experience.

5. Walk often.

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