St. George's Episcopal Church in Antioch recently held an Advent Quiet Day to provide a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the "holiday season." The event featured prayer, meditation, discussion, creative writing activities, and a remarkable mini-odyssey - a literal labyrinthine journey.
Labyrinth walking is an ancient form of focused meditation. St. George's labyrinth, painted onto an asphalt area east of the church building, is patterned after that of Chartres Cathedral in France. The Chartres labyrinth dates back to the 13th century.
Installed in 2004 by St. George's labyrinth facilitators Craig and Jane Wirth, the labyrinth served as a vital component in the church's Advent Quiet Day experience.
The labyrinth, as opposed to the maze, has only one path that leads to the center and out again. There are no tricks, traps or dead ends. There are also no religious, age, status or other prerequisites to walking the labyrinth.
But the Advent experience is not purely introspective and self-centered. One of the event's discussions, led by the Wirths, centered on the United Nations Millenium Development goals such as eradicating hunger and poverty, achieving universal primary education for children and reducing child mortality. The discussions encouraged participants to think about what they could give back, and to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
"Not only do we want to say thanks," said Jane, "but to live our lives in thanks."
"Seeing others with very little makes it obvious that we have so much," said Craig.
A New Year's Eve labyrinth walk is scheduled for Dec. 31 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. "It would be a good way to wrap up the loose ends of last year," said Jane, "and bring in the new year in a more thoughtful and prayerful way."
St. George's Church and labyrinth are located at 301 E. 13th St. in Antioch. Call 757-4934 for more details.