Labyrinth | Library | Retreats and Conferences


What is a labyrinth?

There are many ways to describe a labyrinth.  It is a prayer, a walking meditation, a crucible of change, a watering hole for the spirit, and a mirror of the soul.

The labyrinth is an ancient pattern found in many cultures around the world. Labyrinth designs can be found on pottery, tablets, and tiles dating as far back as 4000 years.  Many patterns are based on spirals from nature.  In Native American culture it is called the Medicine Wheel and Man in the Maze.  The Celts described it as the Never Ending Circle.  It also is called the Kabala in mystical Judaism.  One feature they all share is the one path which winds in a circuitous way to the center.

Calvary's labyrinth is called a "Petite Chartres" and is a replica of the 11-circuit labyrinth of Chartres Cathedral in France.  This pattern, once central to cathedral culture, was inlaid into the stone floor at Chartres in 1201.  For the last 250 years, however, it has been ignored, covered with chairs, until the Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress led the effort to reintroduce the labyrinth into the world as a spiritual tool.  One focus of the work of Dr. Artress and Veriditas has been to make the labyrinth in Chartres open to the public once again.  It is currently open for walking on most Fridays.

Labyrinths are being used world-wide again to quiet the mind, find balance, and encourage meditation, insight, and celebration.  They are open to all people as a non-denominational, cross-cultural tool of well being.  They can be found in medical centers, parks, churches, schools, prisons, memorial parks and retreat centers.

Calvary's Labyrinth is a 7-circuit canvas labyrinth that can be set up in the church's Great Hall and Orgill Room.  The Labyrinth Ministry is coordinated by Veriditas Certified Facilitator, Lynda Gayle Deacon, who completed her training at Chartres Cathedral under Dr. Lauren Artress.


How do I walk the labyrinth?

We encourage you to approach the walk quietly, removing your shoes to protect the canvas.  (If you need shoes for support, you may walk the labyrinth in your shoes.)  There is no right or wrong way to walk the labyrinth.  The labyrinth is not a maze.  There are no tricks to it and no dead ends.

At the entrance, you may wish to take a deep breath or make a slight bow to acknowledge that you are entering sacred space.  Follow the white path into the center.  Remain in the center as long as you wish.  Leave the center and follow the same white path back out again to where you entered.

Three Stages of a Labyrinth Walk

RELEASE the details, the clutter and worries of your life.  This is an act of shedding thoughts and emotions.  It quiets and empties the mind.  This journey from the entrance to the center is also called "purgation."

RECEIVE as you reach the center and open your heart and mind.  Stay there as long as you like.  This is a place of meditation and prayer.  Receive what is there for you to receive.  This also is called "illumination."

RETURN with the healing power of God to do your work in the world.  Each time you walk the labyrinth you will become more empowered to find and do the work for which you feel your soul reaching.  This return walk from the center and out into the world also is called "union."

(Some copy adapted with permission from Veriditas, the Voice of the Labyrinth) 

Retreats & Conferences

Men's Conference at DuBose

For over 55 years, the annual men's conference at DuBose has been a statewide gathering of worship and fellowship for Episcopal men from the three dioceses of Tennessee.  All men of the parish are encouraged to take part in this opportunity for renewal, learning, and fun.  The conference is located at the DuBose Conference Center, on scenic Monteagle Mountain near the campus of the University of the South at Sewanee, in August each year.

St. Clare Women's Half-Day Silent Retreats

St. Clare of Assisi has been named the patron saint of these half-day silent retreats offered to women once a month during the fall and spring.  Generally held on the first Friday of the month at St. Columba Conference Center, these retreats give women a chance to take a break from their busy lives and to just "be."  Each retreat includes a meditation, time of silence for journaling, meditating, or walking amidst the glorious trees of St. Columba, Holy Eucharist, and a luncheon.  The cost is only $20.