St. Augustine once wrote, “Solvitur ambulando” (“It is solved by walking”). The Marble Collegiate Church is now offering the public a chance to test this principle by walking its newly installed labyrinth. The terrazzo-marble pathway is 30 feet in diameter and modeled on that of the glorious medieval cathedral in Chartres, France. One of the few inlaid labyrinths in New York, it is part of a renovation taking place beneath the main church that also includes a new chapel and a columbarium.
Jean Ando is a church member whose first experience of a labyrinth was in an Ohio church in 1999. After reading Lauren Artress’ Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool, she became a certified labyrinth facilitator through a California organization called Veriditas. In 2001, she began leading walks at Marble on a labyrinth made of canvas. Eventually, the spiritual-enrichment committee wanted to invest in something more permanent. She calls the walks “moving meditations.”
A labyrinth’s twists and turns can be seen as a metaphor for the human struggle to find answers to spiritual questions. The reverend Kristy DePree stresses that the labyrinth shouldn’t be thought of as a maze, a structure with dead ends in which one can get lost, but as something more purposeful, in which the way forward is clear if not linear. Walkers are encouraged to ask a question and treat the center as a “place to receive” or to empty the mind with each step in order to achieve a state of calmness or clarity. Either way, she says, there is an “intentionality about the labyrinth.”
The labyrinth will be open the first Sunday of each month from 1 to 3 in the afternoon and every Wednesday evening from 5 to 6 and 7:30 to 8:30.
Marble Collegiate Church, 1 W. 29th St., 212-686-2770, marblechurch.org.