March 22, 2013 | Amanda Greenhoe

A labyrinth, similar to the one shown above, will be available in Calvin's chapel undercroft from March 25–28. Courtesy photo: HiMY SYeD / Toronto City of Labyrinths Project

Next week, a contemplative experience comes to Calvin’s chapel undercroft.

From March 25 through March 28, students, faculty and staff will have the chance to walk a prayer labyrinth.

Last year a labyrinth was offered on campus in observance of Holy Week, and Calvin’s Coordinator of Spiritual Direction and Prayer, Sharon Bytwerk, says the positive response of the college community prompted another installation this year.
“Many people last year commented on how it helped them draw close to God, so we are again offering it,” Bytwerk explained.

Bytwerk tells visitors to expect 20–30 minutes of reflection for the labyrinth walk, “or longer if you wish.” She adds: “In the chapel undercroft, you can expect to find a quiet oasis to refresh yourself and draw near to God.”

The labyrinth is not unique to Calvin, nor is it intended to be. Its winding curves follow the same pattern as the labyrinth in France’s ancient Chartes Cathedral. It is thought that this early prayer labyrinth was built for Eastertime, to be used in remembrance of Jesus’ victory over the grave.

Bytwerk expands on the idea of what a labyrinth’s role might be in this season: “A prayer labyrinth can be used different ways, but one common form for Lent is to deeply bring yourself before your Lord as you walk toward the center, perhaps being aware of Christ’s sacrifice. Then, while in the center, humbly give thanks, while walking out of the labyrinth, offer yourself to your Lord stating your desire for his will.”

The labyrinth will be set up on Palm Sunday in the chapel undercroft by a group of students, including Calvin’s worship apprentices and the Living Our Faith Together (LOFT) prayer team. It will be available, along with comfortable seating and materials for reflection, Monday through Thursday of Holy Week, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

“All of Lent is an offering up of the self to draw near to God,” Bytwerk reminds us, “and the labyrinth is a lovely form to do exactly that.”

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