<P>A Review of The Spirtuality of Mazes and Labyrinths by Gailand MacQueen. Northstone, 2005, $37, 128 pages

One of the most intriguing phenomena of a burgeoning quest in our culture for the Spirit is the desire to experience the sacred personally and viscerally.

More and more people are disenchanted with institutional forms of religion that leave its members spectators of the Holy, and are looking for ways to encounter what lives at the centre of their own being. Beyond conceptual statements of belief, they long for direct and intimate contact with God within their own hearts.

Over the last 25 years North Americans have witnessed an unprecedented groundswell in exploring spirituality in this new experiential way that reflects this deep hunger for the Divine.

One sign of this renewal is the recovery of an ancient tool used for contemplation and prayer. It challenges seekers to move from passivity to active engagement. It asks us to get off the proverbial couch and onto our feet and begin to experience ourselves as pilgrims and journeyers through life. It offers not answers, but a way to engage the questions; not static assertions, but a way of reflectively moving through life.

You guessed it - it's the labyrinth.

Over the last ten to twelve years labyrinths have been springing up all over the place - in prisons, hospital settings, retreat facilities, public spaces and churches both inside and out. Due largely to the pioneering work of Lauren Artress, an Episcopal priest attached to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, labyrinths are being rediscovered by thousands of Christians the world over.

In one article written for a popular lifestyle magazine "Real Simple," the labyrinth has been described as a `revolutionary road' because it takes people into a deeply transformative encounter with themselves. Over the last three years St Hilda's has witnessed the powerful way the labyrinth can touch and transform lives.

By taking a portion of our parking lot and imprinting the labyrinth we transformed what was simply utilitarian into a sacred space for encountering the Holy. Although the response has been largely positive, there have been those both inside and outside our church who find it strange and unsettling.

Because the rediscovery of labyrinths is relatively new, there is a knowledge gap about this sacred tool amongst the public at large. To address this gap many books have been written to educate and familiarize those who want to explore this `revolutionary road.'

One of the most recent publications to come into bookstores is written by Gailand MacQueen entitled The Spirituality of Mazes and Labyrinths. MacQueen takes the reader through a fascinating history of the labyrinth and mazes and explores their differences while at the same time clarifying the specific intention of each.

By giving insight into their uses, the author helps his readers to understand why so many people are drawn to the labyrinth. Through exercises and practical suggestions the book grounds the theoretical in the experiential application of labyrinths and mazes and helps his readers to encounter the mystery and wonder of these enchanting designs.

For anyone intrigued with labyrinths, this book is an excellent primer on the uses of these powerful illuminative roadmaps of the soul.