I have a confession.  I can’t sit still and pay attention for very long.  Now it has a diagnoses of Adult Attention Disorder.  I always called it “I get bored easily and forget where I put things”.

Sitting and praying and meditating is just impossible for me and I used to think that meant I was not very spiritually mature.

 The first time I walked a labyrinth was also the first time I experienced what it is like to meditate and experience some kind of focused prayer.

A labyrinth is different than a maze in that you don’t have to figure out the secret to getting to the center.  Just keep walking and you will get there.

Is that not grace?  Too often people think they have to figure out God’s will or figure out the right way to get to God.

A labyrinth illustrates the grace-filled truth – you don’t have to figure anything out.

Just keep walking with God and you will get to the center.

And how great is it that we have three labyrinths in our Synod?

Labyrinth behind Galilean Lutheran in Clear Lake

Galilean Lutheran Church in Clear Lake has had their labyrinth for more than 15 years.  This summer a member built a welcome center that included a deck with a screened in portion for his Eagle Scout project.

Many people come to walk the labyrinth and often leave notes letting the church know they have been there. ‘The nice part of it being outside,” says Pastor Scot McClusky,  “is that anyone can come and use it”.

A Professor from Waldorf College brings her spirituality class to visit every year and several WELCA groups have come.  Pastor McClusky plans to offer guided meditations and suggested scripture readings for walkers to use.

Rev. Kathy Graves explains the Labyrinth at Trinity Lutheran Church. (Arian Schuessler/The Globe Gazette)

While the setting for Galilean’s labyrinth is nestled among trees in a country nature setting, Trinity Lutheran offers a spiritual oasis in the heart of downtown Mason City.

The idea to include a labyrinth came about as they were renovating the courtyard to improve Trinity’s outdoor worship setting.  They decided they wanted to create a space that could be used by the whole community, not just Trinity members.  A labyrinth seemed just the right addition for that.

When it was finished Trinity invited the public to a day of workshops explaining the background and meaning of labyrinths. As they hoped,  many non-members have made use of this spiritual tool, including the Red Hat Ladies who came for lunch and a presentation.
Trinity has used the labyrinth for their Wed night children’s program and will be using it for their Advent Evening Services by surrounding it with luminaries.
Pastor Graves says she appreciates the labyrinth because it is a very concrete way to focus both our minds and bodies to the reality that we are all on a journey to the Center.


The Lutheran Student Center at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls has a “Traveling Labyrinth   This is a 30 x 30 painted canvas that can be moved and set up temporarily.

Several congregations have borrowed the labyrinth as well as Wartburg Seminary and Lutheran Lakeside camp this past summer.

During finals, when things are too hectic for formal worship, the labyrinth is set up in the worship room with music in the background to allow students an opportunity to take a breather and spend some time in quietly focused prayer.

“I love the labyrinth, ” says  Campus Pastor A.J. Houseman. “It allows for active prayer.  It is a walk with God.”

Check these out.

Sacred Paths – A Pinterest Board the NE Iowa Synod shares with other churches, synods and individuals with photos of labyrinths around the world.

Other Labyrinths in Iowa

By Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson, Director for Evangelical Mission

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. EWALU installed a labyrinth this summer. After walking that on a retreat there this fall, an 8th grade guy created a cross shaped labyrinth with painters tape on the floor of St Paul's Waverly Center for Ministry for the Fall Festival. We left it there for use during Advent, too.


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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.




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