Excerpts from LABYRINTHS—A new and ancient way to pray (The Mennonite 6/1/2004):Marlene Kropf, who teaches Christian spirituality and serves as spiritual director at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind., is probably responsible for introducing more Mennonites to [Catholic mystical prayer] labyrinths than any one person. In 1998, when she was a staff person for the Mennonite Church’s Board of Congregational Ministries, Marlene included the labyrinth as a prayer discipline in that year’s Lenten material for congregations.
Gwen Groff, pastor of Bethany Mennonite Church in Bridgewater Corners, VT, also uses her church’s “lawn labyrinth” as a personal prayer discipline....She has used it as part of a Communion service, too.
Michele Hershberger, chair of the Bible department at Hesston (KS) College as well as director of youth ministries there, discovered labyrinths at a Youth Specialities convention in Nashville, TN. There it was called a “prayer walk” and was set up in one of the convention halls for people to try. “It was just wonderful,” Michele says. As a result of her experience, she ordered a kit from Group Publishing that told how to make a labyrinth on a large piece of cloth or a tarp.
Joetta Schlabach...works with daily access to a labyrinth as Wisdom Ways, a resource center for spirituality that is a collaboration between the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and the College of St. Catherine. [In the Middle Ages the ritual was introduced so that Catholics, who could not make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, could obtain the same indulgences (time off from suffering in purgatory).]
What she finds as meaningful as walking is reading the entries that people write in the journal left at the labyrinth’s entrance. “One 9-year-old wrote, ‘I was afraid I’d get lost and have to start over, but when I got to the center, I knew I could trust myself.’ I think that’s a paradigm of Christian life.”
[TBC: No, that’s a “paradigm” of mysti-cism and occultism. It’s a path that directs one inward to self. Ultimately, it leads to realizing that self is God or a part of God. The article attempts to rally biblical support: “Jeremiah:6:16 says, ‘Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.’ I think that’s emblematic of the labyrinth.” No, the labyrinth is “emblematic” of occult ritualism.]