Just a smidge north of downtown in historic Springfield is St. John’s Lutheran Church. The church has been in Jacksonville since 1877. Recently the people of St. John’s constructed a prayer labyrinth and community garden, which is open to the public from sunrise to sunset.
What is a prayer labyrinth? I’m so glad you asked. A prayer labyrinth is a winding path that a person walks slowly while contemplatively praying or meditating. A labyrinth differs from a maze in that there is only one path in a labyrinth. You can’t get lost. Once you weave your way to the center you turn around and pray or meditate your way out. Labyrinths have historically been used in a variety of cultures and religions; they are not unique to Christianity or western cultures.
The labyrinth at St. John’s is the only one in northeast Florida, so it’s quite unique. St. John’s Lutheran Church constructed their labyrinth to be inclusive. Anyone of any faith is welcome to walk the labyrinth, which provides for a spiritual and/or contemplative experience.
Need to clear your head? Make a big decision? Feeling mentally or spiritually out of whack? The folks at St. John’s in Springfield would be delighted for you to walk the labyrinth, anytime sunrise to sunset.
Here is what St. John’s has to say about the labyrinth:
The labyrinth has only one path so there are no tricks to it and no dead ends. The path winds throughout and becomes a mirror for where we are in our lives. It touches our sorrows and releases our joys. Walk it with an open heart and an open mind.
There are three stages to the walk:
A releasing and letting go of the details, distractions, and extraneous thoughts occurs. It is a time to open the heart and allow the mind to quiet. Find your natural pace.
When you reach the center, stay there as long as you like. Sit or stand. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.
When you leave the center, follow the same path back out. A strange sense of strengthening can occur. You take back out into the world that which you have received.
Guidelines for the walk:
1. Prepare by sitting down. Quiet your mind and become aware of your breath.
2. Follow the pace your body wants to go. Your pace may well change throughout the different stages.
3. Feel free to move around others or let others move around you. This is easiest to do on the turns.
4. The path is a two-way street: you will meet people coming out as you go in. Do what feels natural when you meet.
5. If others are beginning the walk, allow one minute before you start.
6. Parents are expected to supervise their children, especially if others are walking.
7. Experience your experience.
Find the labyrinth at 1950 Silver Street. St. Johns is on the corner of 10th & Silver streets in Springfield. The labyrinth and community garden are right out front. Feel free to take a tomato home with you from the garden!