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UUFG Labyrinth

Welcome ... The place you are entering is not ordinary space: it is sacred space. Leave your watches behind: time here is not clock time, chronos; it is kairos, the fullness of time beyond time, the eternal Now. Based on the circle, the universal symbol for unity and wholeness, the labyrinth is a space for the unconscious, a place of pilgrimage, and a mystical tool for transformation and healing.

No matter where you are in the labyrinth’s circuits, you can always see the center. Once you set your foot upon its path, the labyrinth gently guides you through myriad twists and turns and faultlessly leads you to the center of both the labyrinth and yourself.

 

The Labyrinth at UUFG

The Labyrinth: An Old Tradition Made New

The labyrinth is one of the oldest contemplative and transformational tools known to humankind, used for centuries for prayer, ritual, initiation, and personal and spiritual growth. Its archetypal image is found throughout history in cultures including Ancient Egyptian, Cretan, Celtic, Scandinavian, and Native American. The most famous labyrinth from ancient times was the Cretan one, the supposed lair of the mythological Minotaur which Theseus slew with the aid of Ariadne and her spool of golden thread.

When early Christians could not make their pilgrimages to Jerusalem, the church adopted labyrinths to offer the faithful a way of fulfilling their sacred vows. Christians made their pilgrimages to Chartres, Rheims or Amiens to complete their physical and spiritual journeys in the cathedral labyrinths.

The UUFG labyrinth is modeled after the one in the stone floor of Chartres Cathedral, just outside of Paris, France. Inlaid into the Cathedral floor in 1201, the Chartres labyrinth has eleven concentric paths that wind through four quadrants of a circle. As you journey through our labyrinth, to its center and back, we trust that you will rediscover a long forgotten tradition made new in our day.

Walking the Labyrinth

There is no right way to walk a labyrinth. You only have to enter and follow the path. Adults are often serious in the labyrinth. Children may run in and out as fast as they can in a playful manner.

Each time you walk a labyrinth, choose your attitude. The attitude you choose depends on your needs as you begin. It might be joyous or somber. It might be serious or playful. It might be thoughtful or prayerful. You might use the labyrinth for walking meditation. Play music or sing. Pray out loud. Walk alone and with a crowd. Notice the sky. Listen to the sounds. Most of all pay attention to your experience.

Suggestions for Walking the Labyrinth

  1. Focus. Pause and wait at the entrance. Become quiet and centered. Give acknowledgment through a bow, nod, or other gesture and then enter. Maintain silence throughout your walk for your own reflection and others.
  2. Experience. Walk purposefully. Observe the process. When you reach the center, stay there and focus several moments. You may want to sit, kneel, stand, meditate, or face several directions. Be attentive on the way out. Walking out is a time for integration and gratitude for the gifts received.
  3. Exit. Turn and face the entrance and acknowledge the labyrinth and your journey.
  4. Reflect. After walking the labyrinth reflect back and use journaling or drawing to capture your experience.
  5. Walk often. Come again.

Dedication

This Labyrinth was dedicated to Iantha S. Whittaker on the occasion of her 95th birthday on October 13, 2005.

Iantha is mother of Robin and Denis Whittaker, active members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville. The daughter of a doctor and a Southern belle from Richmond, VA, Iantha graduated from the Peabody Conservatory of Music and taught French. When she was 13, she accompanied one of her piano teacher’s violin pupils, Gerald, who was then 23. He waited and she waited and when she was 20 they married. He was an astronomer with the US Naval Observatory and they were married for 52 years. She never remarried after his death.

Iantha and Gerald became Unitarians in 1925, and she was active in the Miami church. She had been the president of the Miami UU Women’s Alliance and was inducted into the UU Clara Barton Sisterhood. Iantha and Gerald’s five children and their grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have funded the creation of this labyrinth in her honor.

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville is indebted to Iantha’s sons, Robin and Denis, whose dedication to this project enabled Iantha’s family to make this labyrinth possible.

Iantha Whittaker passed away in the spring of 2011 at the age of 100.

 

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