Troy Interfaith Labyrinth

A labyrinth is not a maze to get lost in, but a single route into and out of the heart of a circle. Although there is only one route, there are, says Rev. Charlotte Sommers, many ways to walk the labyrinth.

“Release, receive, reunion with the world, is a way to walk the labyrinth,” says Rev.Sommers. “The idea with the labyrinth is that you walk in and leave behind what you need to behind and you reach the center and receive what you need to receive. It’s like when you’re in the shower or driving and you come up with brilliant ideas because your body is doing what you need to do so you’re open to receive ideas and dreams.”

The 45 ft. diameter Troy labyrinth follows the same pattern as the 800 year old labyrinth in the Chartres Cathedral in France. But the construction of labyrinths dates back to early antiquity. Predating Christianity, they were found in Persian and Celtic traditions.

“It’s sacred geometry that dates back 5,000 years,” says Rev. Sommers. “It’s amazing how anybody can figure that out to make the design.”

The Christian labyrinth tradition began in the 13th century.

“They say that they were used during the holy wars, as a pilgrimage instead of making the dangerous journey to Jerusalem,” says Rev. Sommers. “There’s a lot of history behind it.”

Troy’s interfaith Labyrinth, located at Northminster Presbyterian Church, began as a project of the Troy-Area Interfaith Group. The group opens and closes each meeting with silence, and as they stood in a circle during a 2008 meeting, Rev. Sommers had a vision of them walking the labyrinth.

Members went to walk the labyrinth at St. John’s in Plymouth and experienced the labyrinth on a canvas inside the Northminster building before beginning the process of constructing the new labyrinth.

In all, $35,000 was raised to install the handicap accessible, landscaped brick paver labyrinth. It has since served as a place for people of all faiths to gather, or to visit singly to pray, grieve, or celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. Each May, a group gathers to celebrate World Labyrinth Day, when around the world, groups walk labyrinths at 1:00 pm in their time zone.

Many school and congregational groups come to walk the labyrinth, including UM Dearborn’s world religions class – World Views Seminar, which comes for an introduction, and to walk it as a class, pairing the visit with a trip to the Bharatiya Temple.

“It’s a wonderful place,” says Rev. Sommers.

Many people make walking it a regular meditative practice.

“You can walk it alone. You can walk it in groups. They’re all different experiences. There’s no right way or wrong way to walk it. It’s like life. Kids like to skip it, see how fast they can get in or out,” says Rev. Sommers.

Although the labyrinth is not high maintenance, requiring only regular weeding around it, all the walking has taken a toll, and it is now in need of a clean-up.

Troy-area Interfaith Group and Northminster Church are conducting a drive to collect $3,000 to power wash the labyrinth and do some repairs on the brick pavers. They hope to complete the work by the end of July.

The labyrinth is always open for visitors. To bring a group, call 248 644-5920.

Contributions can be sent to Northminster Presbyterian Church 3633 West Big Beaver Troy, 48084, with a note that it is for the labyrinth.

Click here to find other labyrinths.