Canvas Labyrinth Walk, TEMC Timothy Eaton Memorial Church

Why did the Muslim go to Church on Sunday?
To walk a canvas labyrinth of course! 😉

Earlier today, I finally made my many-years-long overdue trek out to Timothy Eaton Memorial Church on St. Clair Avenue West in Forest Hill.

For many years, they have had an open invitation to walk their canvas labyrinth on the first Sunday morning of the month.

Climate change being what it is nowadays, it remained mild enough for me to enjoy a pleasant walk from home rather than the need to bike or transit to reach TEMC.

I’d never entered the Church before, and I was in time for Services having arrived before they started. A pleasant older gentleman named George guided me to the labyrinth table in a nearby space where a mini-Christmas market was set up.

The space was filled with people and surrounded with tables topped with wonderful colourful crafts and handmade presents. Prices ranged from a few toonies to many dozens of dollars. Towards one wall, a table doubled as the cash register and the labyrinth table.

A hand-carved wooden finger labyrinth caught my attention. I introduced myself, saying that I had come to walk their canvas labyrinth. A friendly lady who was just about to head upstairs to the Reception Room where it was placed, lead the way.

Strange as this may sound, this was the first time I had ever seen a canvas labyrinth up close. I hadn’t realized that fact until I was standing in the doorway to the Reception Room.

Flickering candles cornered each of the eight points of the white canvas. This was a purple seven circuit inner chartes design. Three pillow cushions alternated in the centre alcoves. The centre itself had a small clay sculpture of people circled arm to shoulder to arm to shoulder to arm.

Light labyrinth walking music was playing. As I entered the room, children were walking, not running, but walking the labyrinth very quickly.

As I awaited the traffic to clear until it was my turn to walk the canvas, I signed the guestbook. A few books, news clippings, and newsletters about labyrinths were spread on a table. The table with the CD player had labyrinth related materials aimed at kids. Natural light, as well as intermittent vehicle traffic sounds from St. Clair Avenue, found their way into the room via the slightly open windows.

It all added up to an unexpected ambiance. I have never, never experienced walking any labyrinth like I did this morning. I am still processing it all…

The Canvas Labyrinth upon the carpet is similar in meditative feeling to the Muslim prayer mat laid upon a carpet. The candles and natural light felt outdoorsy yet we were indoors. Car sounds competing with the soft instrumental music combined for a unique sound environment. Weird, strange, yet re-charging all at once.

Susan Howard is chair of the TEMC Labyrinth Committee.

We had a wonderful kindred conversation.

I learned that today was the first and only time TEMC had ever rented this smaller labyrinth. Turns out this particular canvas belongs to JoAnn Stevenson from the Labyrinth Community Network.

For just this one Sunday, the Flora McCrea Auditorium was unavailable. The Church’s larger 36 foot canvas labyrinth was too big for this smaller Reception Room. Hence, the rented labyrinth. Had I not visited TEMC today, I would have missed walking this smaller canvas seven lane labyrinth.

Susan invited me to attend their special year-end labyrinth walk. They will have their regular larger labyrinth laid out. After a year of phenomenal change in the World, what better way to reflect on it all than to walk a large Canvas Labyrinth?

The Eve of New Year’s Eve Labyrinth Walk: Friday, December 30, 2011 (1 pm to 3 pm)
Timothy Eaton Memorial Church, 230 St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto

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