Willow Avenue Mennonite Church Prayer Labyrinth

Willow Avenue Mennonite Church invites the public to a contemporary take on an ancient method of prayer.

The church, at 2529 Willow Avenue in Clovis, CA, will introduce its prayer labyrinth during an event at 11:00 a.m. Sunday, February 9, 2020, led by Pastor Audrey Hindes. A prayer labyrinth is not a maze. “There are no wrong turns; you cannot get lost,” says a sign at its entrance. “Walk slowly, trusting each step to take you closer to the center. Take a moment when you reach the center to listen to what God might be saying to you. When you’re ready, follow the same path back out, knowing that God is with you.”

The walking path of the labyrinth is grass, while the outline of each of the labyrinth’s five circuits are bricks inlayed into the grass. Members of the congregation wrote prayers of blessing for the church and the neighborhood, which lie face-down on bricks that line the entrance to the labyrinth.

The church stresses that everyone is invited to use the labyrinth, which visitors can find by following directional signs posted at the church parking lot entrances on Willow and San Gabriel avenues. At the February 9 event, a wooden finger labyrinth at a table with a chair will also be available for those who prefer a more sedentary spiritual journey. “This prayer labyrinth is really a gift to the neighborhood and wider community,” Hindes says. “I’m aware of only four other public labyrinths in the Fresno-Clovis area.”  A children’s Sunday school lesson has also been written to introduce children to this form of prayer.

Inspiration for the labyrinth comes from the monthly “prayer walks” Hindes has led at labyrinths around Fresno and Clovis since becoming pastor at Willow Avenue nearly three years ago. “It’s a way to pray through the movement of our bodies, allowing our minds to rest and our hearts to open to God’s loving presence.” Anyone is also welcome to participate in the prayer walks, which take place on the first Tuesday of the month at noon. “If you live outside the Fresno-Clovis area, you can search the World-wide Labyrinth Locator website to find one near you. I’m happy to say you can find ours there, too!” Hindes says.

Work on the project began in October 2019 at an all-church workday. The labyrinth was completed on January 2, 2020, when 22 volunteers moved nearly 1,000 bricks donated by a church family, laid and leveled bricks into the channels and packed sand into the gaps. The sand was donated by the Head Start preschool on the church campus. 

Photos of the installation as well as the prayers on the bricks can be found on Willow Avenue Mennonite Church’s website: http://willowmennonite.org/prayer-labyrinth