By MARTHA ALLEN - Correspondent - The Lake Placid News
It looks like a maze.
"You keep calling it a maze," Lynn Edmonds said. "A labyrinth is not a maze, but the exact opposite. A maze is a puzzle, made to confuse you, but a labyrinth is a meditative walk, one foot in front of the other: a path."
Some of us are more familiar with mazes than labyrinths. Trails that intersect haphazardly through the tall, dry stalks of a corn field, mazes chopped into the maize, designed to bewilder, perhaps even frighten, Halloween thrill seekers. Not at all the same thing as the labyrinth created and maintained by Edmonds, a Healing Touch therapist, and her husband, John Hopkins, on their wooded 12-acre property about five years ago.
"In a maze," Edmonds said, "you are always looking for a way to get out."
Whereas, walking a labyrinth, the seeker not only will not get lost, but might well find himself or herself. Or get on track.
Edmonds' labyrinth is a pathway, outlined with native Adirondack stones, its geometric loops contained inside a circle, in a forest clearing. She does not know its exact circumference but, to give an idea of its size, it looks as if it could be contained inside a large living room. Hers is the classic Chartres design, from the Notre Dame de Chartres Cathedral in France, created around 1200.
Labyrinths of various designs have been used for thousands of years by people of many traditions and faiths around the world. Ancient relicts using the labyrinth design can be viewed in art forms from frescoes in Minoan Crete to Native American petroglyphs in the southwestern United States.
A labyrinth can be walked in a field or a forest, on a canvas drop cloth, mowed into a big, green grass yard or even traced on a wooden board or plastic form with a finger.
"It isn't so much what the labyrinth is made out of, but that it allows you access to a sacred place to connect with your own heart," Edmonds said.
Edmonds described the beginning of her own creation.
"I walked a labyrinth in Lake George, and fell in love with it," she said.
Edmonds was able to receive training from Lauren Artress, a minister at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and author of "Sacred Path Companion" and other books when Artress spoke in Saugerties.
After more research, she met a labyrinth builder.
"John helped pick out a spot on the property," she said.
It took 13 truckloads of sand to bring up the level of the land for the big circle. They spread a landscape cloth and brought in mulch, as well as cobblestone from a quarry in Wilmington. The facilitator drew the pattern for the pathway with a can of orange spray paint. Then, with the help of 25 friends, "We all outlined the path with stone, and put in mulch," she said.
Edmonds said her labyrinth is dedicated to Mother Nature.
The labyrinth is a metaphor for life, its design a symbol of the cycle of life, which seldom is a tidy journey from point A to point B.
As John Lennon wrote, "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans."
Like any art form, the labyrinth is a means to transcend daily life and connect the seeker with himself or herself.
"You set your ideas, and then, boom! Something changes," Edmonds said. "Life sends you a different way."
Edmonds uses the labyrinth herself and with her Healing Touch clients, holds ceremonies at certain times, such as the full moon, equinoxes and solstices, and allows people to visit and walk it on their own.
Approached quietly, with intention, walking the labyrinth can help a person gain insight and awareness.
As Edmonds points out, intention is not expectation. You try to focus inward, on yourself, honoring what you are feeling.
"It is an opportunity to accept, rather than deny, what is real about yourself," she said.
You decide how you want to use that awareness and what you can gain from the knowledge.
"I don't want to set people up to say they have to have an epiphany. ... The power of the labyrinth is what you bring to it - the still, small voice within you," she said.
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