Labyrinth Planned for Lindau Farmland

A very special project is in the works in Bedford in one of our many gems of protected areas of conservation land. A small group is spearheading the construction of a sacred labyrinth available to all. Bedford will be joining towns, churches, cities, community organizations, and individuals around Boston, the US, and the world who offer and enjoy labyrinths for prayer, meditation, healing, or just taking a few peaceful minutes out of our hectic lives to slow down and enjoy walking the meandering path.

What is a labyrinth? One may imagine a maze with many dead-end paths and requiring trial and error to navigate successfully. There are tales of mazes that heroes and villains have had to travel through, solving problems, and killing monsters to succeed. However, a traditional labyrinth is typically circular in shape with just one path to the center which is walked in and then back out again. Labyrinths also resemble spirals, but the path is not a perfect spiral; instead, it takes the walker on a route that weaves back and forth closer to the center and then away before finally bringing one to the middle. Walking a labyrinth thus feels mysterious because it is unclear how long the journey will take and how close one is to the center or the end. At the center, one can pause to look around, leave a token offering, express gratitude, or stay for a while. The journey in reverse brings the walker back home; back to “the real world” to integrate what has been experienced or learned into one’s life.

Rev. Fred Small, Policy Director at Massachusetts Interfaith Power and Light, recently related: “Because I learned walking meditation from Thich Nhat Hanh, I often begin with his gatha: ‘I have arrived. I am home.’ Walking the labyrinth, that’s how I feel. Home. In the present moment. The path is winding but effortless. I don’t have to think about it, only to follow it. Sometimes I feel I’m nearly at the center, only to find the path leading me away again. Just like life! And then suddenly I am at the center, and I bow in reverence.”

Labyrinths have been used for centuries by many different religions and secular communities as a way to practice prayer or mindfulness. According to The Labyrinth Society, labyrinths have been found worldwide dating back 4,000 years. Labyrinths were incorporated into many Roman Catholic churches in the middle ages, the most famous of those remaining can be found in Chartres Cathedral near Paris built around 1200.

Bedford residents Mark Bailey and Heather Black, who have two school-age daughters, have regularly walked the Sacred Labyrinth on Block Island, RI which is constructed in a meadow on a hilltop overlooking the ocean. The paths are lined with rocks and wildflowers.

Heather has a tradition of walking the Block Island labyrinth every year on her birthday with one or more of her siblings. Because of the pandemic, she was not able to do so in 2020, and this became the genesis of the Bedford project.

When a community sets out to build a labyrinth, they are told to expect serendipity, and the fates have not disappointed. After discovering a natural meadow on a rise in the Lindau Farmland at Pine Hill, Mark invited Bedford-based Feng Shui expert, Chris Wojnar to assist with identifying the optimal site for the labyrinth. Chris had studied under Marty Cain, who located the Block Island labyrinth and is a founding member of the Labyrinth Society. Chris, Mark, and others worked this past winter to locate the labyrinth. Chris used the timeless practice of dowsing to determine locations for the entrance, the goal, and each circuit, while carefully marking them.  After the early February snowfall, Mark stamped out the seven circuits, enabling many residents to experience their own unique response to walking the path. A Facebook group was started to share information and a number of residents were lucky and appreciative to be able to enjoy it throughout the month of February.

Construction will occur by members of the community throughout the summer and fall of this year. It will be a work in progress and can be enjoyed by all.

Labyrinths have been used for meditation and mindfulness. Because there is only one path in and out, one does not have to think about where to walk. If you take the opportunity to walk slowly and methodically through the labyrinth, the circular motion, easy breathing, and beautiful natural surroundings can allow your mind to rest. You can sing, listen to music, pray, or just enjoy the calm of quiet. One technique for using the labyrinth is to think of an intention for your time walking. At the entrance, pause and think of something you would like to focus on, such as praying for a loved one or hoping for a new job to come through, or for a relationship to mend, or to change a habit. You may be surprised by the time you exit the labyrinth that your mind has given you new insight about whatever your original intention was, or you may experience transformation in some other way.

According to Zara Renander of the Turning Point Group in Huntsville, AL, labyrinths have been used for “healing following PTSD, for suicide prevention, addiction, grief, sexual and domestic abuse as well as for community healing and celebration.”

Mark Bailey said: “I know of so many people in our community who yearn to find a stillness in the face of uncertainty. Many are grieving. We are working to heal a generations-old collective trauma that began with the conquering of indigenous people and continued through slavery and Jim Crow and into the tensions that characterize our time. I hope to see the labyrinth become a place for peace, community, healing, grieving, and marking milestones, maintained for generations into the future. Every time I return to Lindau my appreciation for the sacredness of this meadow deepens.”

To find the Bedford labyrinth, you are invited to explore the land and trails on the Lindau Farmland. There is a small dirt parking area off Pine Hill Road and you can find the project under construction past the water tower in the upper meadow. Consider taking a few moments to stop, relax, and let your mind discover what it may while you let your feet carry you through the labyrinth.

Sources for more information

Other local labyrinths

  • Bethany House, Arlington
  • Boston College, Chestnut Hill
  • Botanic Garden, Wellesley College
  • Armenian Heritage Park, Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston
  • Church of St. Andrew, Marblehead
  • Church of Our Redeemer, Lexington
  • Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston (indoor)

For more information about the Bedford labyrinth contact markdavidbailey@gmail.com

~ Submitted by Meighan Matthews

Correction, 06262021: Rev. Fred Small is Policy Director at Massachusetts Interfaith Power and Light, not Director of Faith in Action at Interfaith Power & Light as originally posted.


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