Saturday, 22 September 2012

Footsteps in The City - Urban Spirituality

Our daughter phoned earlier  this evening for a chat. I'd mentioned  walking the Fen Court Labyrinth earlier in the week as part of the Sacred Spirals course  and she'd sent me a link to this picture of it on Flickr. If you've not visited  before, London Centre for Spirituality and Fen Court are set in the heart of the City. Not the usual setting you (well, I anyway) usually associate with a meditative aid like a labyrinth; most of those I've visited have been in peaceful, rural places like  St Beunos in Wales.

Here, the contrast couldn't have been more marked. I struggled to even begin to explain  the experience;  musing  ongoing in any case. (I'm a slooowww thinker at the best of times). But what struck me  as we stepped out was how much this area reminds me of a visit to New York  5 years ago. Something about the feel?  The contrast between the sheer height..the immensity  of the buildings and the smallness of the people working and living in them?  ( Found myself looking upwards rather than outwards). A sense of 'edginess,' being crowded, of the need to maintain stricter boundaries round my personal 'space,' than I'm accustomed to in our small town? Most of all, awareness of a shadow, slight though no less real for all that, of the events in NY of that September morning in 2001. On that trip in 2007, we visited Ground Zero, boarded up at the time so really nothing much to  see, yet, not surprisingly, it was still a sobering experience.

Going back to last week, as I mentioned,  I'm still pondering the actual experience of walking my first city labyrinth, though I can sum it up as a strangely peaceful time. My first meeting with urban spirituality also (reflection in process); I've much to ponder, much to learn. Where I live is hardly out in the styx, yet I  feel very much like a little 'country mouse,' whenever I venture out of my comfort zones! In contrast to our daughter, who's lived in London for nearly seven years, now and is really energised by life in the Big City. I think she may have her own sense of 'awareness,' though I'm pretty sure she'd hesitated to call it 'spirituality,' urban, city, or otherwise. The animation above, 'Footsteps,' is one she and friends made as part of her college course. Do have a peep at this  'alternative,' look at London. Enjoy.


  1. I enjoyed the video, very nicely made!

    There's a garden labyrinth in Edinburgh, which is quite pretty and doesn't feel very urban.

    Edinburgh is a city but doesn't feel too much like one, I couldn't live in a big city like London

  2. Thanks, yes. I can remember thinking similarly the one time I visited Edinburgh, maybe because it's surrounded by hills, if I remember rightly (?) My only experience of city living was a few years spent in Strasbourg; city certainly, though doesn't begin to compare to places like London size wise. I've spent most of my life no more than an hour's journey from the capital and love visiting it, but like you, I don't think I could live there.

    Of course, my daughter will probably chime in now to remind me that London is really a series of towns, not a single entity!

  3. Wonderful video, thanks for sharing it. And thanks for sharing about the shadow of New York on the London labyrinth. I agree that tall towers can now symbolise vulnerability as well as strength. I suspect that whatever connections and memories arise on the labyrinth appear for a reason; I know that walking it can be a powerful prayer of intercession.


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