A labyrinth embraces the walker.
Words and music by Sarah Pirtle © 2021, Discovery Center Music, BMI
1. This labyrinth holds us, this labyrinth of peace,
an ancient code we follow in the ground.
Silent thoughts wait there, each footstep like a prayer
That echoes down the whole world round.
One step at a time, one step at a time,
Going on though we don’t know what’s next.
With unexpected turns in the labyrinth we learn
This path is one. We are blessed.
2. This labyrinth that dares to catch us unawares
And turn us back then lead us out once more.
We let go of straight lines, and suddenly we find
what we held stuck can open like a door.
3. In trust my footsteps beat when I have unsteady feet
Through times I’m lost and through times I’m found.
I feel the earth’s embrace and her healing grace
And send this out through footfalls in the ground.
4. What is that wondering you carry in your heart?
With every step let that question sound.
Keep on walking there, and this becomes a prayer
That echoes down the whole world round.
The Story of the Song
I heard this song arrive after meeting Clive Johnson, an Interfaith minister from near London, UK who has launched Labyrinth Across America. I came out of my house at just the right time to see Clive set up his labyrinth on the village green across from my home when he was starting his road trip journey.
Clive said that when walking a labyrinth we receive its embrace and allow ourselves to just be in the present.
What does it feel like to follow the turns of a labyrinth? Four friends helped revise the lyrics. “One step at a time is the key thing,” said Mary Thibaudeau, “And the fact that all our paths are one.” Carol Harley, Dave Gott, and Paula Hendrick helped polish the words, also.
Paula observed, “A labyrinth reveals itself to be a spiral where you go around and end up in the center.”
I first presented this new version of the song at the Community Labyrinth in Greenfield, MA at the Episcopal Church on Federal Street where all in attendance received a green spiral bead.
As I recorded this I tried to remember the sensation of walking the labyrinth at Starseed Healing Sanctuary where pink cosmos and other flowers grow along the circuits. Every first Sunday of the month Starseed director Satyena Ananda leads prayers for the earth. We formulate prayers inside us as we walk, and then stand together in the center and offer our prayers out loud. Find more information about Starseed within the “Starseed Celebration” song.
Another favorite labyrinth is at the home of Prue Berry, Rowe MA. Prue and Marty Cain led a dowsing workshop for Rowe Conference Center where they dowsed the location for it, and it turned out to be forested. Big ash, birch and maple trees are part of the classic seven circuit form along with many rocks. As Prue says, “The labyrinth settled itself around the large trees and saplings.”
“A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. It represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools. A labyrinth is an archetype with which we can have a direct experience. Walking the labyrinth can be considered an initiation in which one awakens the knowledge encoded within their DNA.”
Labyrinth Across America is described by Clive as a project “to take a single portable labyrinth around the states that mark the boundaries of the United States. The idea is to create a positive energy by the movement of the labyrinth in a circle around this great country, and to introduce many people to the pleasure of walking a labyrinth.”
Clive Johnson is the author of several books. including Understanding Interfaith. Clive travels the US with a portable labyrinth. http://www.labyrintharoundamerica.net.
Lorraine Villemaire, Sister of St. Joseph of Springfield, MA, says, “The labyrinth is a simple meditative tool that provides time to calmly reflect on the presence of a Higher Spirit within common everyday experiences. Through the gentle act of walking, people find guidance and direction in their lives.”
Sister Lorraine co-authored Labyrinth Reflections, a resource for facilitators and labyrinth walkers, along with Cathy Rigali. For more information, contact Sr. Lorraine at email@example.com.
The ancient history of the Labyrinth is described by Sister Lorraine “The design was found on pottery, clay pottery, roof tiles, coins, stones, graffiti, and rocks in Southern Europe dating back to 4,500-4000 BCE.”