Upon entering Westminster Presbyterian Church on Good Friday, visitors were offered socks for the journey they were about to take.
There in the next room, illuminated only by natural light peeking through the windows, was a giant cream-colored circular canvas was painted with an intricate purple design. It’s called a labyrinth.
“It’s an age-old idea that has to do with people’s natural need, their heart’s desire to be walking towards a center,” said interim Pastor Rev. Lucie Perkins. “The labyrinth gives them a center to walk to. ... There’s no tricks, there’s no dead ends, there’s nothing to be solved. The way into the center is the same way out from the center, so you just put one foot in front of another and you walk.”
Janiya Stegall, 14, paced deliberately between the lines. Her 8-year-old brother, Donovan, and 15-year-old sister Keasia Bivins, followed her.
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Gregorian chants played softly over silence.
“It’s very peaceful and you just think of everything that you want to get off your chest while you walk it,” she said. “It’s a better way to pray. You’re still moving around and thinking.”
God, life, middle school, President Donald Trump, the situation in Syria and the upcoming state-mandated Milestones tests were among thoughts Stegall said were running through her mind.
In the Middle Ages, when people could no longer make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem safely, Perkins said many people had labyrinths of their own to “metaphorically or symbolically make their journey to Jerusalem.”
Labyrinths remain a form of prayer and worship today, especially for “those who don’t feel comfortable coming on a Sunday morning into a sanctuary for whatever reason,” Perkins said. “The neat thing to is that kids, the plugged-in generation, resonate with the quietness of the labyrinth.”