Historical Saturday: Grace Cathedral’s Labyrinth

Grace Cathedral, S.F., Meditation Circle 2
Grace Cathedral’s Labyrinth, San Francisco

On a recent outing I came across Grace Cathedral in Nob Hill.  Ever since I read about it in Armistead Maupin’s “More Tales of the City,” I have been curious to see this structure that was the site of such gruesome drama in his novel.  The church itself is very unique and ornate, but the thing that caught my attention are its simple labyrinths.

Grace Cathedral has two meditation labyrinths, one inside made of limestone and one outside made of terrazzo stone.  The mazes are not just unused affectations of the past; they are being used everyday by people trying to calm their mind so that they can truly see themselves and the world around them.  Pilgrims have found comfort and self-awareness though the use of labyrinths from ancient Greece and Rome to present day.  Across many religions, cultures, and eras, there is evidence that people walked the labyrinth.  This is a perfect example of the intersection between history and the modern world.  As I toured the Cathedral, I observed several people walking their way through the paths deep in their own thoughts and meditation.

According to the Cathedral’s website, there are three stages of the meditation walk.  They are listed below:

  • Purgation (Releasing) ~ A releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. This is the act of shedding thoughts and distractions. A time to open the heart and quiet the mind.
  • Illumination (Receiving) ~ When you reach the center, stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.
  • Union (Returning) ~ As you leave, following the same path out of the center as you came in, you enter the third stage, which is joining God, your Higher Power, or the healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work you feel your soul reaching for.    – Grace Cathedral’s Website

When you come to San Francisco and find yourself with a gap in your schedule, take some time to visit Grace Cathedral and walk the labyrinth.  If you live here, set aside an hour on a Sunday afternoon, trek up Nob Hill, and perform this simple and ancient ritual.  I hope your time on the path brings you inspiration, guidance, or some new kernel of self-awareness. 

Cheers,

Mike

Grace Cathedral, S.F.,  Outside Meditation 1
Grace Cathedral’s Labyrinth, San Francisco
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