Wednesday, 24 August 2011

A journey to the cross – Tynemouth Beach Labyrinth

Over the last few years I have had the pleasure of planning and preparing a few indoor labyrinths, they have been really positive, but I have often thought that although great, that we miss an opportunity to engage with the wider community, and often we would complain that ‘the un-churched’ wouldn’t come in to our buildings.  As i reflected on this there were others that were developing labyrinths in public places.

I came across one that was done on Crosby beach  after seeing what they had created I was really inspired. I decided to explore how we could do it on the coast here in the North East. I decided to use the same model as they had used and after a few tweaks and an added station we began to plan.

It took a couple of hours to set up, our biggest problem was the weather... we just about got the design done and we were putting the various reflections in place when the heavens opened!  The weather soon cheered up and people started to gather and walk the labyrinth.

One of the great things about doing it in a public space is that over the course of the day many folk stopped and asked us what we were doing and why we were doing it, no one actually walked it other than church folk, but I think with a few more alterations we would be able to encourage people to have a go.

There was something special and creative about interacting with nature as we prepared it, hearing the sea, wind and the birds. Listening to children playing and dogs barking... including my own!  There was a tangible presence of the Holy Spirit as we laid this ancient path in to the sand of this modern world... all the while St Georges Church, a gothic building built in 1884 stood in the background.

As folk came out of the labyrinth I heard people comment... inspiring, profound, moving, wonderful. I think in my heart I long for more days like this, a day where faith collides with the world, where the church gets out of its walls and meets people where they are.

At the end of today I went back to watch the tied come in and wash it away, I stood as dusk turned to night and as I was reflecting on the day three people came and asked me what it was and why we had done it. For that conversation alone it was worth it. 


  1. Excellent, Rob - I was just remembering when we did that Jubilee 2000 think down on the beach (with the children's shoes - do you remember it? Quite possibly not.) I really like the fact that this labyrinth was visible and accessible spirituality - not pretentious but thought-provoking.