Last night I spent time researching articles on the Web critical of using the labyrinth in spiritual formation. Most of the arguments reminded me of those that were critical of contemporary Christian Music 30 years ago. I cannot remember how many times I was told that anything with a drum beat was “of the devil”. My answer to those critics is the same I would offer to the critics of the labyrinth: Music is morally neutral. It functions within God’s natural physical laws. We must give the music its meaning.
Labyrinths are patterns. They are morally neutral. It is we who give their usage meaning.
As I read most of the critics, their main target was Dr. Lauren Artress of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. She is the author of “Walking the Sacred Path” which is a book about using the labyrinth as a spiritual tool. I have read her book and have found it to be one of those books which must be read with an understanding that the author has attached some personal perspectives which other Christians could disagree with along with the Christian focus they offer.
I do believe the labyrinth can be a positive tool in spiritual formation. I do have the credentials to evaluate it from a position which holds a high view of Scripture and an evangelical motivation and desire.
The labyrinth can be used as a means of discerning God’s will for a person. It can be a tool used for self-introspection. It can be a means of making communion more meaningful. It can be used as a time of intercession and thanksgiving. It offers opportunity for worship in unique ways.
Sadly, as in the time of Jesus, there will always be those critics who view anything that outside of their comfort zone as “of the devil” and feel compelled to try and scare others into embracing their paranoia. I feel sorry for them and the opportunities they miss.