They remembered that God was their rock, God most high, their redeemer. Psalm 78:35
In September, 2017, the MOSAIC of Faith women, along with the parishioners of St. Matthew, built a Prayer Path in the woods behind the church’s Parish Center. During the daylight hours, visitors of all faiths are welcome to walk the path in prayer and reverence. St. Matthew is located at 2 Searles Road in Windham, NH.
(Scroll to the bottom for photos of its construction and the amazing volunteers who made it happen!)
What Is A Prayer Path?
A Prayer Path is a walking prayer that leads us closer to God. Built in the shape of a labyrinth, the single path spirals in, and then out, from one center point. It has no dead ends; it is not possible to lose your way. Made entirely of stones, ours is a reminder that God is our rock, and the only one we should build our foundation upon.
In order to root the project in the Catholic/Christian faith, a cross was installed as the focal point of the space. Handmade by parishioner Andy Nelson, it graces the space with its simplicity and beauty.
Brief History of Prayer Paths
Prayer Paths have a long history in the Catholic/Christian Church. Although they began appearing in Catholic Cathedrals as early as the 12th century, the oldest surviving Prayer Path is from the 13th century. Located in the Cathedral of Chartres in France, it was used by early Christians who were unable to make the actual pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Suggested Way To Walk The St. Matthew’s Prayer Path
There are three stages of walking a Prayer Path: The Purging, The Nailing To The Cross, and The Resurrection.
- At the entrance of the Prayer Path, pause and raise your eyes to the cross. Take a moment to breathe deeply and center yourself.
- As you journey into the spiral, review all your problems and related emotions, sharing them all with God.
The Nailing To The Cross:
- When you arrive at the center, pause and raise your eyes to the cross again. Feel God’s presence there.
- Stay at that center point for as long as you need to hand everything over to Him. Let God nail all of your problems and concerns to the cross.
- Then begin the journey out.
- Notice that although you’re retracing the same exact steps out that you walked on the way in, you now do so with a lightness of being, renewed hope, and joy. Like Christ’s cross redeemed the world, in walking the Prayer Path, you have allowed God to redeem you.
- Before exiting the Prayer Path, turn and face the cross one last time. Express your gratitude for all that God has done, and continues to do, for you.
General Guidelines For The Prayer Path
Despite the above suggestions, as long as you are using your time in the Prayer Path to talk and be with God, there is no right or wrong way to walk it. However, there are some general guidelines and rules of etiquette to follow:
- There should always be reverent silence in and around the Prayer Path.
- If there are others in the Prayer Path, allow the person ahead of you to get two or three turns in before you begin.
- Travel at your own pace. If you are walking faster than the person in front of you, it is okay to pass him/her. If you are walking slower than the person behind you, simply step to the side and let him/her pass you.
For information on how to build a Prayer Path, contact Claire at email@example.com.
Cleaning Out The Space
Gathering Rock Donations From Parishioners
Outlining The Path
Installing The Cross
Preserving The Outline From The Heavy Rains
Fr. Brian’s Blessings
The Amazing Volunteers
Laying The Stones
The Refreshments Committee
Digging Out The Boulder For The Right Entrance Pillar
Digging Out The Boulder For The Left Entrance Pillar
The Individual Volunteers
Reflection Benches Donated By The St. Matthew’s Sweat Shop Ladies. Tranquility Gardens Created and Installed By The Gardening Committee.
The Prayer Path in the fall.