Working through life’s labyrinth

Campus addition offers meditative space

This summer, Malone constructed a prayer labyrinth on campus outside Founder’s Hall as a tool for worship and prayer by the Malone community. The labyrinth was made possible through a four year grant of over $300,000, courtesy of The Lily Endowment.

Suzanne Nicholson, professor of biblical studies, was a key player in the creation of the prayer labyrinth.

“The prayer labyrinth is a tool for meditation… It’s like [a] candle. It’s not the tool itself that is a bad or good thing. It’s how you use it,” Nicholson said. “Even though we have other religious traditions that use [labyrinths] as a meditative tool, we use it in the Christian tradition as a tool to focus on the Holy Spirit and listen to how God is speaking to us.”

Rachel Jenkins, senior political science and philosophy major, walking the new prayer labyrinth on campus (Photo by Tara Hilverding)
Rachel Jenkins, senior political science and philosophy major, walking the new prayer labyrinth on campus (Photo by Tara Hilverding)

A labyrinth is not like a maze that has many different paths and dead ends. It has only one path; one way in and one way out. Labyrinths come in all different shapes and sizes, and their purpose is to help someone focus on God and their prayers.

Not only can a labyrinth be a tool in developing one’s faith, but it can also represent many different meanings and metaphors.

“It is a metaphor for the journey of life with all sorts of twists and turns. When you are going down the path of life, you never know where you’re going to end up,” Nicholson said.

When designing the labyrinth, Malone went to a professional labyrinth design company to find something that would fit all of the criteria.

“[We] wanted something that was large enough to allow multiple people to walk it at once but not super huge that the budget would prohibit it or that it would be difficult to put on campus,” said Nicholson. “This one met our needs space-wise, budgetary-wise and capacity-wise.”

 

When talking about one of her personal experiences in walking the labyrinth, Nicholson said, “when the rain was on the paving stones, it changed the color of the paving stones. There are so many metaphors for when you’re walking on it. The colors of the paving stones made me think of different circumstances of life that make you see God’s path differently. It’s the same path I’m on. I’m still following God but the circumstances have changed and my field of vision is a little different because of that”

Nicholson hopes the new labyrinth enables students to find a different way of listening to God in prayer.

Zachary Murray, senior bible, theology and history major, described his own experience with the prayer labyrinth. “It’s not a ‘you have to do it this kind of way’ thing. Whatever way you want to approach it [that] to allows you to be centered on God,” Murray said.

The Prayer Labyrinth can be walked through as slowly or as quickly as a person wants to take it.

“It’s not about what someone else is doing or what somebody else will do. It’s what you needs to do at that moment,” said Murray.

Another student who has considered utilizing the new labyrinth is Haley Kool, senior business administration, accounting and finance major.

“Fighting [apprehension] and getting through that and trying the prayer labyrinth can be really helpful for people on campus.”

 

Tara Hilverding is a Staff Writer and Staff Photogragher

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