Outdoor labyrinth at St. Patrick’s a haven for solitude

Special to The PREVIEW

When the current building of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church was consecrated back in November of 2003, there was a dream that a portion of the land behind the church building would be used to create an outdoor labyrinth.

The general outline of the labyrinth was created, but the labyrinth itself took many more years to reach completion. The land was still rough and needed careful clearing. The outline of the labyrinth covers quite a bit of space and required heavy rocks to be moved. The path had to be cleared of shrubs, rocks and weeds. The people of St. Patrick’s didn’t give up on the idea, though it lay dormant for a number of years.

Several years ago, a youth group from Church of the Annunciation in Lewisville, Texas, planned a work and recreational trip to Pagosa Springs and contacted Fr. Doug Neel asking if there were any work projects he could suggest for the young people to do. Neel had long hoped for the completion of the labyrinth, but he also knew that it would take a lot of physical strength and man hours to make the dream a reality.

“I had a real sense that God was providing the answer to that prayer for us,” says Neel. Neel suggested that the young people come and work on creating the labyrinth.

With the help of parishioners Sally High and Addi Greer, and a few of the church’s own youth, along with the St. Patrick’s Men’s Fellowship, the team showed up with about 20 young people and sponsors to begin the hard work of creating the labyrinth. There was indeed a lot of heavy lifting and heavy equipment needed to do the job, but by the end of the week, the makings of the labyrinth were well on their way.

The next year, another group of young people from Church of the Ascension in Dallas came and offered their services and the final touches were applied. More rocks were moved, grass, weeds and shrubs were removed and gravel was laid on the path. The labyrinth became a reality at long last.

In July, the group from the Church of the Annunciation will return to do maintenance on the labyrinth.

“My wife, Sally, and I served this church for several years when we lived in Dallas and we are always happy to have them come and share their gifts with our community of faith. I am told that the young people were very moved by the experience of helping build the labyrinth and are looking forward to coming back.”

The labyrinth is rustic, depicting the natural beauty of it surroundings. No trees were sacrificed in its creation. In fact, at one spot along the walk, the traveler must navigate a young tree that is in the middle of the path. It reminds us that the journey of life is not without its obstacles. A beautiful old pine tree holds court at the very center of the labyrinth and wooden benches have been placed beneath it, offering a place of prayer and meditation.

“We invite any who wish to walk the labyrinth to come and do so,” says Neel. “You don’t have to make an appointment or check in at the church office. It is completely open to the public at any time as a place to come and make spiritual contact with the divine. We will also begin including labyrinth walks in connection with our Sunday Night Unplugged services, offering to those who attend the opportunity to walk the labyrinth following the time of music and meditation.”

The labyrinth is located on the land behind the church’s parking lot. The entrance is marked by a kiosk and a large modern sculpture of a joyful-looking person with arms raised to the heavens.