Rev Robin Pryor was a great believer in the power of a labyrinth to invite Christians to encounter the Spirit’s presence of the risen Lord as the two followers did on the road to Emmaus, outlined in the Gospel of John.
“The labyrinth is not a ‘maze’ as there are no false paths or tricks to be overcome. Instead, we simply walk the narrow path to the centre, rest a little perhaps, and walk the same way out again,” he once wrote.
“There is a wholeness, a completeness in this journey in, and the journey out – Scripture abounds with reference to God’s people as a ‘pilgrim people’.
Pallotti College Retreat Centre, a favoured place for Uniting Church people to go for retreats, has constructed a labyrinth on its Millgrove site in the Yarra Valley dedicated to the memory of Rev Pryor’s ministry there, with his wife Bronwyn, from 2001 to 2006.
The retreat gave the Pryors hospitality to work on-site, offering spiritual direction and leading retreats, mainly to Protestants, while working as part of the Catholic team offering that hospitality.
About 50 people attended a special service last month led by Fr Dean Bradbury at the college to bless and dedicate the labyrinth.
The new labyrinth is a Chartres design with native blue grass and Brachyscombe flowers to mark the track.
The paths are sawdust and there are seats in the middle for resting and reflecting before walking back out again. The location of the labyrinth was specifically chosen by Rev Pryor prior to his death almost two years ago.
Rev Pryor will be remembered for his passion for spiritual formation and retreat leadership which inspired many in the Uniting Church and beyond to spend time alone with God.
He was instrumental in the formation of the Uniting Church’s spiritual direction network, was a member of the Australian Network for Spiritual Direction and served for several years as its national president.
Rev Pryor was also a councillor of the Australian Ecumenical Council for Spiritual Direction, a body set up as an umbrella group to oversee spiritual direction formation programs and networks in Australia.