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First Congregational's Labyrinth Garden is a gift to the community of Appleton from First Congregational United Church of Christ, given in the year 2000 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the church. We are grateful to Lawrence University for providing the site for this peaceful path to spiritual rejuvenation.
The labyrinth is located on the eastern edge of our campus in a secluded setting. There is parking adjacent to the labyrinth, with easy access from East South River Street.
A labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in all faith traditions in various forms around the world. By walking a replica of the labyrinth that was laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral around 1220 CE, we are rediscovering a long-forgotten, mystical tradition that is insisting to be reborn.
The labyrinth is not a maze. It has only one path, so there are no tricks and no dead ends. You cannot get lost, yet the winding path encourages us to lose ourselves in communion with God, who meets us wherever we are on life’s journey. You may walk it with an open mind and an open heart.
Three Stages of the Walk
There is no right way or wrong way to walk a labyrinth as long as the desire to walk it is consciously chosen. Labyrinth walking is not a perfectionist act; it is often necessary to step outside the lines. Whatever happens during the spiritual exercise of labyrinth walking can be used as a metaphor for our spiritual lives.
You may find it helpful to consider the walk in stages.
- Purgation: a releasing, letting go of the details of your life. This is an act of shedding thoughts and emotions. It quiets and empties the mind.
- Illumination: when you reach the center. Stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.
- Union: which is joining God, your Higher Power, or the healing forces in the world. As you walk out of the labyrinth, you become more empowered to find and do the work you feel your soul reaching for.
Guidelines for Walking Our Labyrinth
Clear your mind and become aware of your breath. You may pass people or let others step around you, whichever is easiest at the turns. The path is a two-way street; those going in will meet those coming out. Do what feels natural.
It is important to find and honor your own pace on the path, which will often change throughout the three stages of the walk. Follow the pace your body wants to go, not the pace the mind may think you should go. In order to honor your pace, give yourself permission to move around others during the labyrinth walk. Some people are drawn to a very slow pace. Others glide around the turns as if they had wings. Moving around one another is the key to discovering and staying with one's own flow.
We ask that no one use skateboards, roller blades, bikes, or inline skates on the labyrinth.
Groups are asked to contact the church office (920) 733-7393 to schedule a group walk.
The church has two portable labyrinths that are available for labyrinth workshops outside of First Congregational UCC. Please contact the church office for rental information.