Welcome to the labyrinth | Baxter Bulletin

Helen Mansfield / The Baxter Bulletin

When a person says they are “going around in circles,” it is not a phrase that usually evokes feelings of peace or quiet, but rather nervousness and anxiety.

To combat these feelings of stress, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church opens its doors once a month to its parishioners and the general public to wander through the maze of Keller Hall.

April Baily, parishioner and principal of St. Andrew’s, is the keeper of the maze.

Unlike a labyrinth, a labyrinth is an ancient tool used for prayer and meditation by several cultures around the world.

According to St. Andrew’s website, it is “a path with a purpose, a metaphor for the journey of life, our passage through time and experience.”

The labyrinth is carved into the floor of Keller Hall.

The floor was installed when the church was built about 14 years ago.

Baily said the maze averages four to six walkers per month, mostly St. Andrew’s parishioners, but admits that many of her colleagues are unaware the maze is there.

The room is accessible to anyone, regardless of religion or faith, and she said there is no right or wrong way to approach the maze.

“Some people read Bible verses as they go through them, Catholics say the rosary,” Baily said. “Whatever works for you is fine, whatever connects you endlessly.”

She adds that the walker does not have to be a Christian to appreciate the calm reflection that the labyrinth can offer.

Baily said the maze, as part of the worship tradition, dates back thousands of years. Perhaps the best-known labyrinth is the Chartres Labyrinth in the Roman Catholic Church of Notre-Dame de Chartres in Chartres, France.

“Many religious traditions use it as a way to calm the mind,” Baily said. “It’s almost hypnotic to step on it. “

The Chartres labyrinth is approximately 42 feet in diameter and was built of limestone in the 13th century.

The labyrinth of Saint-André is open the second Friday of each month from 10:30 am to noon. The next date will be Friday December 10th.

In his preparations each month, Baily puts out candles and chairs to allow for contemplative meditation.

Some walk it, then sit and read or meditate taking about 20-30 minutes, others will come in and walk it and then leave.

For those who cannot walk on the floor, there are labyrinths the size of a tower that participants can trace with their fingers and achieve a similar effect.

Keller Hall is a large but comfortable room, and tea and cookies or other light snacks are provided monthly.

A variety of soothing music is played during the 90 minutes that the hall is open. Some of the arrangements come from Native American tradition, some are inspired by faith and some are not.

A particular collection of music comes from the community of Taizè, an ecumenical monastic order in Burgundy, France. The music is a collection of songs and hymns sung in French, English, Italian and Latin.

Bailey provides books, brochures, and other reading material on mazes and mandalas – the colorful, ornate circles used to represent a spiritual journey, starting from the outside to the inner core, through layers.

There is no charge for the use of space, no offer taken, no expectation of a walker, although in these times walkers are asked for social distancing.

Like most events and activities, the maze experienced a drop in visitor numbers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even when the walkers returned, Baily was reluctant to put on our refreshments.

Baily has overseen the maze of steps and stops for the past three to four years.

Some months she brought in up to eight people, other months nobody.

“Something I do because I like meditation and serenity; it’s a nice break from the busy world, ”Baily said.

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