If you drove into the parking lot or if you drove past the church recently, you may have noticed that the labyrinth is almost finished. It is almost ready for you to take your first meditative and healing walk (or ride, as the labyrinth is wheelchair accessible).
Before we talk about the labyrinth, let’s delve into how Saint Ambrose came to create a labyrinth. In 2021, Saint Ambrose applied for a grant from the Episcopal Church’s Task Force on Care of Creation and Environmental Racism. The task force awarded 10 grants in July 2021 and Saint Ambrose was one of the recipients. The grants were awarded to support creative and long-term eco-ministries.
Saint Ambrose has a long history of activism and environmentalism and several recent projects—the rain garden, Prayer Garden and Columbarium and rain barrels, along with our activism with the Rochester Heights community, helped us secure this grant during a very competitive process. The church has chosen to create a labyrinth to provide an additional space for spiritual formation for our congregation and a place where the Saint Ambrose faith community and the surrounding community can find peace, tranquility and healing.
The building of the labyrinth and all of the tools to assist with this spiritual experience were funded by the Creation Care grant and some generous donations.
What is a labyrinth?
The word labyrinth comes from the Greek word, “labyrinthos”. It is a path with only one way in and one way out. It is not a maze. The labyrinth is a very old meditative tool. Ancient designs that can be identified as being labyrinths have been found on the Asian, European and North American continents, dating back as far as 3000 years. Now they are found on almost every continent.
During modern times most people who walk a labyrinth choose the activity for meditative and spiritual purposes. The walk will usually reflect each individual’s personal needs and perspective.
The Saint Ambrose labyrinth has a layout that reflects the integration of Ethiopian spirituality into the life and worship at Saint Ambrose. The Ethiopian cross is a foundational influence for the labyrinth’s design.
People have been walking labyrinths for years. Some of the stated benefits of walking the labyrinth are becoming present in the moment; calming the mind and the spirit; relieving stress; focusing attention, providing an opportunity for creative thinking; and providing spiritual mooring as you recite and offer prayers or supplications.
The labyrinth has several tools to enhance your walk. There are recorded and visual prayers that you can listen to or read; stepping stones to guide your path around the labyrinth; and benches to allow you to sit and contemplate.
While there are many labyrinths in the Raleigh area, the Saint Ambrose Labyrinth is believed to be the first one in the southeast Raleigh area.
More information on the blessing of the labyrinth and opportunities to celebrate this spiritual tool will be provided as we get closer to completion.