Christians have been walking labyrinths as a means of prayer for centuries. In the Middle Ages, many cathedrals in Europe built them to symbolize the journey to Jerusalem. The most famous is on the marble floor of the nave of Chartres Cathedral in France – its 42 ft. wide, seven-circle design is the prototype for many in the US today including the 36 ft. wide one at the august National Cathedral in Washington and the more informal one at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, where people convene for Tuesday night Yoga class.
And they aren’t just for Christians anymore. As interest in yoga and holistic medicine has grown and become mainstream, so has the demand for labyrinths. David Tolzmann of The Labyrinth Company (Greenwich, CT) has made a lucrative business out of designing a variety of these modern mazes (46!) on everything from canvas to cork to ceramic tile – for churches, universities (Wesleyan), rehab centers (Betty Ford), schools and prisons – but replicas of the Chartres is his bread and butter. He offers pre-cut DIY kits, too. Now if he could only sell one to his wife, the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.