Gladstone Labyrinth

Make me to know your ways O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation.  Psalm 25:4-5

Some of the simplest and most ancient labyrinth-like patterns have been discovered in the Mediterranean and Celtic lands, and are known as Classical or Cretan labyrinths.

The words 'maze' and 'labyrinth' are often used interchangeably, but they are different. A maze has many paths, and is used as a puzzle or game, whereas a labyrinth has one path leading from the entrance into the centre and out again.

Labyrinths are found in religious traditions in various forms around the world and are now in wide use for developing Christian spirituality. There are several in New Zealand.

Medieval pilgrims, unable to travel to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage, mostly journeyed instead to holy sites within Europe. In many cases the actual destination was a labyrinth of paving stones laid in the floor of the nave of a great Gothic cathedral. The best known example is the 12th century cathedral in Chartres. For some pilgrims, reaching the centre of such a labyrinth symbolised arriving at the Holy City itself.

A labyrinth is a sacred pathway, walked as a metaphor for the journey through life, or as a metaphor for a pilgrimage. There are three stages:

  • letting go of detail and distraction and what blocks you in life or prayer;
  • the centre: a place for meditation or prayer; stay as long as you like;
  • walking out: joined with God, moving out into the world, taking the light of Christ with you.

This labyrinth has been constructed about 3km south of the Gladstone junction, in a paddock that has been fenced off from livestock and planted with indigenous trees. As the photographs illustrate, the grasses grow waist high in summer and die back in winter.

Design and construction took place in 2005 and 2006. The design follows the 7-ring classical pattern though with a larger central space than usual. The design was scaled to fit the site and located so that the path would avoid previous plantings. The end result is about 30 metres across.

The labyrinth is in an area fenced off from stock. Please close the gate after you. Wear good footwear: there are thistles trying to grow on the path and after rain it can be wet. In winter the approach to the labyrinth can be muddy.

A path winds along by a row of plum trees to a pair of low posts. Pass between them to start into the labyrinth. It is best walked singly: groups should leave a gap between individuals as they start. The same narrow path serves for inward and outward journeys.