In a world with a 24-hour news cycle, email, instant communication and the ever-increasing need to post daily events on social media, it can be difficult for Coloradans to slow down and give their …
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In a world with a 24-hour news cycle, email, instant communication and the ever-increasing need to post daily events on social media, it can be difficult for Coloradans to slow down and give their minds a rest.
Which, according to Tom LaRose with the Advent Lutheran church in Westminster, is why the church built a labyrinth on the grounds, and welcome members of the community to use it daily.
“Walking the labyrinth lets you find your center, find your heart,” said LaRose. “You walk into the path and take your mind away from the world. It helps you focus and quiet yourself while you shut out the world. The stones in the labyrinth are intricate enough that you need to pay attention.”
LaRose said labyrinths have been used by Christians, Hindus and Native Americans for centuries, and serve as a contemplative tool to ease the mind.
Advent Lutheran inherited the stones for the labyrinth earlier this year when it’s original home, the Loretto Convent and retreat center in Denver closed its doors. Church members moved and placed more than 300 slabs of Colorado red sandstone, relocating the labyrinth to its new home at 7979 Meade Street.
“The challenge was to make everything flat,” said LaRose. “We will be installing benches around the labyrinth as well, for people to come and relax.”
The seven-circuit traditional labyrinth took nearly a month to complete, with 20 tons of base dirt and seven tons of black sand being leveled before two dozen members of the congregation spent their Sunday laying the stones out in the elaborate pattern.
Barb Martens has been the pastor at Advent Lutheran for eight years and helped build the original labyrinth at Loretto nearly ten years ago. When the retreat center closed, she said they were happy to move the labyrinth to their church for community members to enjoy.
“They’re turning up everywhere, they’ve become quite popular,” said Martens. “The labyrinth is a prayer path, so it’s a tool for mediation. Something in the walking of it lets you focus on what’s in your heart and your mind. We wanted to offer that to everyone around here.”
Martens said they were able to install the labyrinth thanks to two members of the congregation who passed away recently, who requested donations be made to the church in lieu of flowers.
“We had two wonderful women who left memorial funds. Maxine Bobier, who was a school teacher in Westminster for years, and Barbara Barrett, who, along with her husband, was an active member of the church,” said Martens.
LaRose, who moved to Colorado from Arizona, said he had always dreamed of building a labyrinth, and was honored to coordinate the move.
“I’ve always thought labyrinths were neat,” said LaRose, who is referred to by many as the `Labyrinth Guy” now. “It’s been a joy. I’m excited we have it here for the public to enjoy.”
While many enter the labyrinth with a specific intention in mind, church member Joan LaRose said walking the path often brings thoughts to her mind that she didn’t expect.
“It’s a deliberate walk,” she said. “I walk in with the intention of one thing, and usually find another when I get there.”
The church will hold a dedication ceremony Aug. 19, at 9:30 a.m., and a plaque honoring Bobier and Barrett will be placed at the site. The labyrinth is open to the public every day, and Martens said she hopes it will get plenty of use.
Labyrinth or maze?
According to Barb Martens, pastor at Advent Lutheran church in Westminster, mazes and labyrinths have been around for centuries, but serve different purposes. A maze is designed as a brain teaser, with the intent of getting one lost or confused until they ultimately find the center or exit.
A labyrinth serves as a meditative walk, with a clear path in and a clear path out. The purpose of the labyrinth is to settle the mind by allowing the walker to focus on the path and ponder as they travel.
Labyrinths are not specifically sacred places and are open for all to walk and meditate, including children. However, because their purpose is to calm the mind of the walker, respect should be given for those walking the labyrinth. Maintaining a peaceful environment so others can meditate is essential and use care and reverence when passing other walkers.
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