Aunty Ali Golding, Aboriginal Elder: I’m giving you a look at my journey as a child, coming from the salt water/fresh water of the north coast of NSW and I’ll walk around with this painting of my journey. I was always taught about my Aboriginal spirituality by my elders, when you leave us Ali and make your journey, you always have the big fella up there, the big spirit who’ll be your sign post until you’re finished. I have a scripture which goes along with my journey and its taken from the Psalms. “The word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” And that’s what my journey is all about.
Monsignor Tony Doherty, Church of Mary Magdalene, Rose Bay: There’s a man named Hans Kung, who made the statement that “There will be no peace in the world unless there is peace among religions and there will be no peace among religions until we come together to listen to one another.” I’d like to share a dedication by John O’Donohue:
May we awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of our own presence. May we have joy and peace in the temple of our senses and may we receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon. May we respond to the call of your gift and find the courage to follow its path. May warmth of heart keep our presence aflame and anxiety not linger about us. May we take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention. May we be consoled in the secret symmetry of our souls. May we experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.
I pray with you that the mystery of this labyrinth may continue to nourish the spirit of each one of us.
Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, Emanuel Synagogue, Woollahra: Its an auspicious moment for the Jews that are gathered here in that it’s the last few hours of our 8 day festival of Hanukkah which is known as the Festival of Light. Judaism at its best and at its core is a walking toward the light of awareness, consciousness, of intelligence and love. That which we call God, the One that unites all. Our way of doing that is through our story of Torah which is made up of guidance for us called the Mitzvah, the things that we are called upon to do or avoid doing. How we do that is actually known as the Halakha, which is the walking. So in that sense of walking the path, I find one of our great teachers, instructs us best. The Prophet Micah said, “Oh mortal what is it that God calls upon you to do, but to do justice, act with loving kindness and walk humbly with the one mystery in which you have been born.”
Imam Amid Hady, Zetland Mosque: I would like to share a prayer from Islamic tradition in which all of us as believers are on the path, to achieve our goal of being happy in this world and the hereafter.
“In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful. All praise to Allah, the lord of the Heaven and the Earth and all within it and the whole universe. You alone will I worship and to you alone we seek help and guidance. Oh Allah, guide us to the true path, the path of those in whom you have bestowed your favour and of those who enjoyed your blessing. Oh Allah, whose love and mercy enshrine all his creatures. We are gathered here this afternoon to mark the beginning of our endeavour to walk and pray in the labyrinth in this humble, but historical and significant event. Oh Allah stengthen our faith and compassion, and we humbly beseech your forgiveness and protection. Unite our hearts so that we may feel the relationship of humanity as children of our fore-parents Adam and Eve. May we be blessed by you, in this difficult time, where peace justice and prosperity are values that all humanity still had to work hard to achieve, we are coming to you Allah, spreading our hands, seeking your guidance and assistance. We ask your protection and intercession that those who are suffering be relieved of their burden and that you save all humanity from misery. Oh Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or made a mistake. Lay not upon us a burden like that which you laid upon those before us. Oh Lord, burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. Oh God almighty we submit ourselves unto you. We turn our faces towards you and we totally rely on you and hope for mercy from you. Verily there is no refuge, no safe haven from you except with you.”
Reverend Ben Gilmour, Paddington Uniting Church
We have a labyrinth in our Church, which we lay out on Saturdays. There’s a small child in our community who calls it the maze of God. I like watching them in the labyrinth because I see the temptation to jump over lines and sometimes when they jump over the lines they end up going backwards instead of forwards. This is a beautiful metaphor of life and of faith. In some ways we are called to be true to the journey, true to the way, the path that is before us. The labyrinth is the gift that in our tradition, calls us to reflect upon what it is to be who we really are in relation to ourselves, to each other, to the world and to creator. I’m excited about this vision of a labyrinth as a public space where we can all come and reflect, pray and journey together. My hope and prayer is that this will be a journey of faith for us all, no matter what tradition we hold. From my tradition there is a strong sense of being a pilgrim – that we are called to journey – that there is no other way in fact, but to journey. Following the way was one of the early phrases of the Christian tradition – people of the way. In many ways following the way is a call to reconnect with ourselves and our community. Let us all be encouraged and now I’m going to walk the labyrinth as a symbol of that reconciling journey.
Father Martin Davies, St James Church, King St:
Christians have been known as People of the Way. The way we follow is the way of Christ leading to God, but the way is not always straightforward and many feel lost on the way. This prayer is by Thomas Merton, which I personally identify with and know others have as well.
“Oh Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire to please you. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, to make my journey alone.”
And so I enter the mystery of that journey…
Subhana Barzaghi Roshi, Zen Buddhist Centre:
I had the opportunity to walk the Chartres Cathedral labyrinth in France, which I feel to be a very sacred path. A Buddhist orientation to life and walk the sacred path is to walk in an upright manner with integrity, love, compassion and wisdom. Like the labyrinth with its twists and turns along the way, the pilgrim learns to welcome each turn as a challenge and opportunity for further growth and maturity in cultivating the heart of compassion. To walk with mindfulness is to let go into the moment, into this great mystery of our being, making each step a step of peace. With mindfulness we transform the ordinary acts of life into the sacred, so that the walker and that which is walked upon are one.
Venerable Boan Sunim, Korean Pori Temple, Gordon
Chanted Buddhist prayers
Jaspal Singh, Turramurra Sikh Temple
I belong to the Sikh religion and we have a Holy Book called Shri Guru Granth Sahib. We have 10 prophets. The first is called Guru Nanak. He said, “ God is one. He is watching everyone. Nobody can be spared from his eyes. His name is true. He has no enemies. He is fearless. He teaches us to live peacefully and with loving nature.
Emily Simpson, Centennial Park Labyrinth Project
I’d like to offer another blessing by John O’Donohue. It’s a blessing for coming home to yourself. “May all that is unforgiven in you, be released. May your fears yield their deepest tranquilities. May all that unlived in you blossom into a future graced with love.”