Original Research - Special Collection: Yolanda Dreyer Festschrift

The labyrinth as a symbol of life: A journey with God and chronic pain

Lishje Els
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 73, No 4 | a4582 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v73i4.4582 | © 2017 Lishje Els | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 April 2017 | Published: 23 June 2017

About the author(s)

Lishje Els, Department of Practical Theology, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


This article is written in the style and method of an autoethnography that focuses on the author’s spiritual journey with God while living with chronic pain. The labyrinth is used as a metaphor and spiritual tool to describe this journey. The author’s personal experience with religion and spirituality is described as well as the choice of moving from thinking about God being ‘out there’, far away and looking upon God’s creation (supernatural theism) to discovering God within – God ‘right here’ (panentheism). The affects and effects of living with chronic pain are discussed in reference to the process of walking the circuits of a labyrinth. The role of different people who played a part in this journey is highlighted. This way of writing corresponds with a narrative way of living which concentrates on deconstruction of dominant discourses and looking for outcomes that may lead to hope and transformation. The difference between rainbow hope and reasonable hope is explained and the consequence of choosing reasonable hope is discussed. Transformation of the person through the journey becomes apparent in the article.


Auto ethnography; discourse; spiritual; religion; panetheism; narrative writing; narrative living; labyrinth; chronic pain; spiritual journey; contemplative


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