Sunday, October 9, 2011

Labyrinth in the Landscape - Story of A Prayer Garden

Labyrinths have become popular in the design of landscapes in recent modern times.  The history of labyrinth goes back thousands of years as a symbol of salvation and enlightenment.  It is a one way path leading to the center and back again where one can find solitude and peace within.  It is a place for prayer.    As a landscape designer I had the opportunity to design a prayer garden for a local church and it was one of  the most enjoyable and fulfilling projects I have  ever done.  Here is the story of the labyrinth.

I was approached back in 2010 to design a memorial prayer garden where parishioners could go to meditate and pray and enjoy the beauty of nature all in one place.  At the start of the project, I encountered an empty slate of lawn area with a gazebo in the center surrounded by a group of walkways.  The area ended up being the perfect fit for a 30 foot round labyrinth and the gazebo was able to be reused as an additional sitting area on the left corner.   I also felt it was important that the design included benches for guests who would prefer to have a place to rest and partake in prayer.  Once the design was completed it was time to build the labyrinth.  The structure modeled after the Labyrinth of the Cathedral of Chartres in France was constructed out of grey and charcoal Euro circle pavers with sections of different colored stone as areas of accent along the perimeter.  Bluestone treads were placed from the entrance of the labyrinth to the surrounding walkways that were able to stay intact.

Memorialized seat walls and bricks were added to the the labyrinth for visitors to visit, meditate or pray.  Gardens of colorful, fragrant and drought tolerant shrubs and perennials such as viburnum and lavender will  surround the labyrinth on all sides.

The story of the labyrinth traces back to history thousands of years ago.  The sacred geometry of the labyrinth focuses on the numbers four, seven and twelve, each emerging from separate paths.  The central portion of the labyrinth represents a cross surrounded by four sections representing the four gospels and seven is the number of 180 turns there are in each quarter of the labyrinth, also representing the seven liberal arts of medieval education.  Twelve is the number of paths going to the center of the labyrinth representing the twelve month calendar.  As one walks the labyrinth it is meant to be the path of life...a journey to the center of oneself and back out into the world.  Walking into the center of the labyrinth is a symbol for realization and "letting go". Time in the center symbolizes clarity, insight and illumination. Finally, the journey out symbolizes union, initiative and taking control of one's life.  The labyrinth in all is a metaphor for "life's journey".

It has been such a wonderful experience being involved in such a project and seeing the results go from a drafted design to the completed project has been very rewarding.  One can say the whole experience has been both spiritual and enlightening and I know the labyrinth will bring fulfillment to the lives of all those who encounter it.  I know it has certainly brought fulfillment to mine.


Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.


3 comments:

  1. Hello. I recently posted a piece on a labyrinth garden here on Long Island. It's part of a community garden and managed by volunteers. Such a peaceful, lovely way to breathe and meditate.

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  2. Hi. I just visited your blog and read the article you wrote about the local labyrinth and it turns out that it is in my home town...small world. I visit it often...a beautiful serene place. Very nice article on the Common Ground.

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  3. A friend of mine has a labyrinth with a tiny 'temple' in the middle. it is a beautiful and peaceful place.

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Thank you for visiting. I love reading your comments and knowing you have been here, and will try to reciprocate on your blog. If you have any questions I will try my very best to answer them. As always...HAPPY GARDENING!

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