Walking the Labyrinth at Chartres
The mother of all labyrinths is in the Chartres Cathedral about an hour SW of Paris. Sanan and I, along with our favorite Dutch friend, Willemijn, made the trip last Friday. (FYI, the labyrinth is only “uncovered” by clearing away the chairs on Fridays between 14h and 16h.) If you are imaging a quiet, ancient cathedral with the 3 of us meditatingly walking this amazing labyrinth, – well think again. There were at least a hundred tourist in the popular tourist site, making as much noise as well, 100 tourist would make. On the labyrinth itself there were probably 30-40 people trying to walk it at the same time. There was actually a traffic jam near the end because the center was crowded with people just standing and ‘meditating’ of all things (lol).
We managed to make it through all the curves and switchbacks as well as the traffic congestion and spend our minute or two in the middle. Then we sat down on the surrounding chairs and naturally debriefed the experience.
We had just walked on stones that were laid in the early 1200s. They have accompanied spiritual pilgrims and their prayers for 800 years. It wasn’t the reflective, intimate moment we had anticipated. However it was more like real life. You see, a labyrinth is a metaphor for life: you, the ordinary person is called into the adventure where you begin to feel you are just going around in senseless circles until you suddenly reach the centre. It is here that you ‘find yourself’ or ‘find God in yourself’ and humbly receive peace, power, direction, motivation…whatever you need to make it back out of the labyrinth and be a part of positive change in your community.
But our labyrinth experience took this metaphor to a new dimension. Along the path, we encountered those going too slow, which challenged our patience. We encountered a group of Japanese tourist who, with their cameras, were totally unaware that they were standing on a labyrinth and impeding the journey of many searching souls.There are those along our journey clueless that there is a even a journey going on.
Then there was the group of children who arrived to play tag on the circular paths. Yes, when children come into your life, it does have a way of turning your spiritual life on its head, but it was fun to see these kids turning the journey into “fun”.
Then there was the traffic jam at the end, where there was nothing else to do but wait on others. This reminded me as I move into the later stages of life that the adventure will slow down and eventually there will come a time when I must wait on others to do things for me. Depending on how long I live there may even come the day when I feel I’m just waiting around, biding my time, until my call comes to enter into the most amazing phase of the journey…the call to eternity.
Check out the labyrinths that I have made over the past few years at