Lutherans in the Twin Cities

Walker Health to welcome those on ‘path’ to wholeness

Walker Health Center is making available to the public the labyrinth on its chapel floor. Adherents use the labyrinth design to focus prayer while walking the path. Photo provided by Walker Health Center

Walker Methodist Health Center opened its Walker Chapel labyrinth to the broader community for reflection and prayer on September 18. It was the initial effort of a trial program to test community interest in this ancient spiritual practice. The Center is located at 3737 Bryant Avenue South in Minneapolis.

The labyrinth emerged in some Christian churches during the period of the Church Fathers, though it is not entirely clear what it was used for at that time. In the late Medieval period, several cathedrals, including Chartres, had the labyrinth imprinted on their stone floor.

Although based on the Chartres style, Walker Chapel’s labyrinth has a softer feel. The path is imprinted on the chapel’s carpet, making it quite accessible, even for residents with walkers or wheelchairs, according to Joy Peterson, administrative assistant for Walker Chapel.

Marty Jones, director of spiritual care, stresses that the labyrinth is not associated with any particular religious tradition, but that it can be used as a tool for personal meditation and self-reflection. “Everyone is welcome,” she stresses.

Future open dates for the Walker Chapel labyrinth are October 16, November 20, and December 18. The Chapel will be open for those interested in walking the path, or observing others doing so, from 5:00-6:00 p.m.

Walking a sacred path

The labyrinth was originally presented to Walker Chapel by a donor in memory of a long-term volunteer, the Rev. Bob Bedford, a spiritual care supporter. Bedford was honored by the Walker Chapel for “his spirit of community in this sacred space.”

The Walker Chapel seats up to 150 people, and has weekly Sunday morning worship services generally attended by more than 100 residents, family, and staff.

Peterson explained that it was the volunteers, staff, and residents who encouraged that the labyrinth be opened up for use by the broader community.

“The labyrinth brings peace to individuals [who walk the path], so there was a strong desire among the spiritual care staff to make it available to people who want a meaningful experience,” Peterson explained.

For those interested in more connection to Walker Chapel, worship escorts are needed to assist residents who wish to attend Sunday morning worship services. Volunteer hours on Sundays are 9:30-11:30 a.m. The duties include pushing wheelchairs, operating elevators, escorting individuals with walkers, and serving as seating ushers and worship companions. Training is provided but individuals should have some experience working with adults who have physical limitations. The volunteer schedules are flexible, but volunteers must sign up in advance, according to Peterson.

For more information contact Joy Peterson at 612/827-8602 or jpeterson@walkermethodist.org.

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