About the Labyrinth:
Nestled in the woods, just past Edna’s point and not far from the lake, you will find the Pilgrim Lodge Labyrinth. It is an 8-course labyrinth on a cruciform pattern, meaning there are four quarters. The paths are almost four feet wide, so there is room for people to pass. The field stones that mark the way are taken from the cabin chimneys that had to be torn down. The rough rubble from those same chimneys lies below the ground as fill. In total, about 100 tons of material was moved, much by wheel barrow through the woods. The labyrinth is 84 feet in diameter. By the time you walk from the entrance to the center, you have walked about a quarter mile. As you enter the labyrinth, and again as you enter the center, you are facing east. It was sighted in on the spring equinox, by the sunset, which was due west.
As you enter the center, you are facing a stone seat at the opposite (east) side. There are 7 benches around the right side and 7 benches around the left, each with the compass routed into the tops of the benches. The benches are made from half-logs from a tree cut down on the site. At five points where the path doubles back are planted large boulders. These stones are probably one to two tons each. You can see some of them in the picture. As you stand in the center of the labyrinth you will find that the large boulders create two axis: North/South and East/West
The labyrinth is situated in a kind of sloping bowl between granite outcrops, set about 100 feet back from the lake. The space between those outcrops dictated the size of the labyrinth. The center is about a quarter of the total width, which is typical of labyrinths. The actual center is set so that four big trees fall in the second ring out, and then the benches make up the first ring. A lot of other trees are left, some of which fall on a border between paths, and some of which are right in the middle of a path so you have to go around them.
The Pilgrim Lodge labyrinth is unique in its adaptation to the forest that is its home. Unlike many labyrinths, ours is not perfectly level. As is often with the path to God, one must navigate around obstacles. One early visitor started a tradition of touching the axis boulders as you come up to them. It’s a nice effect. You feel like you’re in contact with the foundations of the earth. Others find a simple phrase or mantra chanted silently helps bring a centering effect. Still others offer a prayer at each turn around. And some just like to walk gently in the woods. Another feature unique to the PL labyrinth is the circle of benches, inviting groups to share their experience, or just sit silently together in the midst of the walk.
What is a Labyrinth?
A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The Labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.
A labyrinth is an archetype with which we can have a direct experience. We can walk it. It is a metaphor for life’s journey. It is a symbol that creates a sacred space and place and takes us out of our ego to “That Which Is Within.” Labyrinths and mazes have often been confused. When most people hear of a labyrinth they think of a maze. A labyrinth is not a maze. A maze is like a puzzle to be solved. It has twists, turns, and blind alleys. A labyrinth has only one path. It is unicursal. The way in is the way out. There are no blind alleys. The path leads you on a circuitous path to the center and out again. (Adapted from: http://www.lessons4living.com/labyrinth.htm).
Building The Labyrinth
The labyrinth at Pilgrim Lodge was conceived by camp director Bryan Breault, but the work of designing, feeling the right spot, and bringing it to realization was the vision and work of Jay Young, member of the Woodfords Congregational Church. Bryan and Jay found the spot in the Winter of 2006, and blessed the space with prayers, poems and song during sunset of the vernal equinox when they marked true west. Much work was done by volunteers at Jump Start Weekend. Maintenance Supervisor Steve Jones kept an eye on the project and managed professional earth movers and supplies. The project moved along slowly with the help of volunteers and staff until Rev. Gil Healy of the North Yarmouth Congregational Church became enamored of the project and decided to dedicate the bulk of his vacation to its completion. Throughout the Spring and Summer of 2006, volunteers and staff hauled in about 35 yards of gravel (probably 50 tons) and 15 yards of mulch. Jay and Gil spent days moving earth and stone and brought the project to completion in early August. Gil also constructed a path around the outside of the labyrinth for viewing.
Those who worked on the labyrinth:
Please contact us with those we forgot to mention.
Steve Jones & Janos Meysar
- Jay Young, Gil Healy,
- John Bancroft, Howard Charles (tree work), Jonathan Doughty, Peter Godfrey (routing directions), Tom Hancock, Holly Hancock, Katie Silver, John Steelhammer, Eric C. Smith,
- Participants at Jump Start Weekend 2006
- Campers and counselors from the Pilgrim Lodge 2006 season
- Staff: Bryan Breault, Liz Charles, Jack Davidson, Arthur Flanders, Emily Goodnow, Steve Jones, Janos Meysar, Allie Rimkunas, John Rimkunas, Karen Steelhammer, Sam Wilcox
- Rockcraft Retreat Center loaned us their Kabota tractor – thanks Eric!
Thank you to everyone who helped manifest this vision!
Dedicating The Labyrinth:
On September 9, 2006 a service of dedication was held to dedicate the labyrinth to “God’s glory and the spiritual wholeness of all who come.” Sojourners gathered first at the chapel for some gathering music and to learn the new song “Pilgrim Labyrinth” written by labyrinth designer and builder Jay Young. Then, to the sound of the drum played by Deborah Breault, each walked the trail to the site. First a messenger met them with a thought with which to walk the labyrinth; further down they were handed a rhythm instrument; finally before entering the labyrinth itself, each was given the option of a Native American smudge, or symbolic purification. As one approached the labyrinth the sound of the drum faded as the sound of “Simple Gifts” grew as played by the musicians in the center. Music was provided by Jay Young, Gil Healy, Deborah Breault, Ben Bigney, Joe Heasly, and John Rimkunas. Each then walked the labyrinth almost to the center where the service was held. Following the service each walked to the center and back out followed by the sound of a single drumbeat. The service had a sincere, and reverent feel, but not somber or sad. The event felt gentle and holistic. A reception in the center room of the lodge followed where Jay Young and Gil Healy were recognized for their efforts on bringing the labyrinth to fruition.