Walking the Wedding Labyrinth
Getting married on a labyrinth turns a ceremony of union into a walk of love.
Reprinted with permission from "The Way of the Labyrinth: A Powerful Meditation for Everyday Life."
A walk of love. The description came from the father of the groom in the first wedding I held on a labyrinth. I think the words describe the possibilities that labyrinths can bring to all sorts of ceremonies. The duality of the labyrinth--connecting the physical act of walking with the inner, spiritual passages--resonates with the duality of public ceremonies.
A wedding is often called a "public affirmation of a private commitment." Walking the labyrinth in a ceremony can connect you both to the community of friends--who can witness and acknowledge the event from the perimeter of the circle--and to the larger community of humankind across cultures and generations. For thousands of years, labyrinths have been interwoven into rituals in cultures from Europe to Asia to South and North America.
The idea of using labyrinths in weddings arose soon after I started my labyrinth work. After the second public walk I facilitated, a young man who happened to be the son of a dear friend spoke to me about his girlfriend walking the labyrinth on New Year's Eve 1993. "I realized in that moment, when I saw her at the center, that this was the woman I wanted to marry, and that I wanted to marry her on the labyrinth," he said. At the time, he confided to me, he had not yet asked her to marry him.
Eventually he asked her and she accepted. I worked with the couple for a year and a half; together we created their personal ceremony on the labyrinth. The preparations included painting a special ceremonial three-circuit labyrinth wide enough for them to walk together. At the same time, I was called to be ordained into the interfaith ministry of the Universal Brotherhood Movement, so that I could perform the wedding.
I have gone on to officiate several other weddings on the labyrinth. The couples all have their unique stories. One couple who chose a labyrinth wedding, for example, had had a relationship more than twenty years before. Each had gone on to marry someone else. Through a set of odds-defying circumstances, they met up again and realized they were right for each other. The labyrinth walk that was part of their ceremony seemed to be a metaphor for the twists of fate that brought them together, sent them apart, then brought them together again to marry. As they separately walked the path in, they came close and then walked next to each other. Then their paths would diverge, just as it had happened in their lives.