Take it from one amazed onlooker: it takes a lot of stones, each roughly hand-sized, to make a labyrinth where once stood a lawn of grass.
Last November I blogged about the portable cloth labyrinth that visited Keene State College. After the tranquil experience of treading that winding path, I read with interest this past weekend about the new stone labyrinth that had been installed (and then dedicated on September 11th) behind the First Baptist Church here in Keene. First Baptist already has a Peace Park on its quiet grounds, so laying stones for a winding walkway to heaven seems to make sense, the practice of stopping to walk a labyrinth being an intrinsically calming, peace-inducing activity.
Naturally, walking an outdoor labyrinth is quite different from pacing the polished floors of a college Student Center. The sun was setting last night when I took my quick trip to Jerusalem and back, and the crickets were calling, having already taken up residence in the sheltering stones that mark the labyrinth’s twisting walkway.
I’ve written before about the difference between labyrinths and mazes: whereas you can get lost in a maze, there’s only one (albeit wending) way to the center of a labyrinth. The message of a labyrinth is to persevere–take the next step–keep going even if the way seems long or confusing. You will get there, and back, safely, a labyrinth seems to reassure. Take care with this next step, and peace will follow all the rest.
It seemed very natural to walk a labyrinth marked with stones of varying shapes, sizes, and colors. Just as it takes all types of people to make the Kingdom of God, it takes all types of stones to mark the way there and back. Here in the Granite State, we have plenty of rocks…and hikers here are used to following cairns–piles of stone–to find their way over mountaintops.
In the grass behind the First Baptist Church here in Keene, it’s as if one of those cairns has come undone, unraveling its myriad stones like a clew unwound. Following a line of stone, you find at the end that peace is indeed in every step, underfoot.