Pilgrim United Church of Christ

Pilgrim’s Labyrinth

About our labyrinth


Pilgrim United Church of Christ invites you to experience our labyrinth. For thousands of years, human beings have created spiral paths that fold back on themselves. With its eleven switchbacks, our labyrinth resembles the world-famous one located in the nave of the Cathedral in Chartres, France. Originally constructed in about 1220, its twists and turns symbolized the difficulties pilgrims experienced as they traveled away from home seeking God. Today, they symbolize the challenges we all experience in trying to become closer to God, however known.

 The labyrinth consists of a single path. There are no dead-ends, here or in life. Walking it provides a time for prayer or meditation. St. Augustine said, “salvator ambulado” or “it is solved by walking.”   The phrase constitutes a metaphor for the lived life, each step suggesting unexpected turns leading to unknown destinations. To walk the labyrinth requires concentration as one makes deliberate and careful moves. In so doing, the mind becomes clearer and open to the spirit of God.

Walking the labyrinth

There is no right or wrong way to walk the labyrinth. You proceed in your own way for your own purpose. Please silence your cell phone before beginning. 

You might find it useful to pause briefly at the entrance and take a few deep breaths. They provide a way to center oneself, to begin quieting the mind. As you enter the path, concentrate on its twists and turns, which you know will take you toward the center, albeit in unpredictable ways. 

During your journey, other people may also be present. If you meet, simply step off the path then return to it. There is plenty of time. No one needs to hurry. Because the labyrinth encourages contemplation, conversation is discouraged. 

As you begin, look down, focus, and put one step in front of the other. You might imagine this part of the walk as like a journey inward. When you arrive at the center, the straight line formed by the brickwork symbolizes the quiet calm of grace. Pause. Sit down if you wish (yes, right on the ground). Stay as long as you like. And with a new state of mind, turn, and follow the path out again. You might see yourself journeying outward, back into the world. 

When you exit, it can be useful to pause again, perhaps by sitting on the wall for a few moments, and reflect on the meaning of your time here.

St. Francis de Sales once said: “We should listen to God for at least 30 minutes a day – except, of course, when we’re very busy. Then we should make it an hour.” Although few will be able to walk the labyrinth for an hour each day, we at Pilgrim UCC hope that allowing yourself the gift of this time brings not an escape from the world but a way to experience it in a more blessed way.

About our church

In our denomination, the United Church of Christ, we believe that “no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey – you are welcome here.” As a symbol of this pledge, at Pilgrim UCC we open our communion table to everyone. The feast unites us all, regardless of theological beliefs or personal characteristics.

A pilgrim journeys to a holy place, seeking spiritual insight. Pilgrim UCC affirms and celebrates a wide range of faith traditions and theological perspectives. In addition, our congregation comprises persons of all races, sexual orientations, gender identities, and other characteristics. The result of this mingling of ideas ad people encourages us, always imperfectly, to learn new dimensions of truth.

We gather for worship on Sunday mornings at 10:30 am. As we enter to find sanctuary, we leave to provide sanctuary . Although aware of our uncertainty and fallibility, we strive to follow the teachings of Jesus by actively caring for our most vulnerable neighbors. We work with Durham CAN, support newly released prisoners, participate in Meals on Wheels, serve the homeless at Urban Ministries, teach English and tutor immigrant children and adults, lead an open Communion at NC Pride, act to reduce malnutrition through the CROP Hunger Walk, and more.

Please join us along the way.

Photos of the labyrinth construction