The Rev. Shelly Petz T’08 – Labyrinth Maker
\There had been a dream [at Grace United Methodist Church, in Olathe, Kan.] of having a labyrinth for 10 years, but it never came to fruition. As we began to think about what it meant to journey together, that’s when we decided the journey metaphor and the journey of the labyrinth came together in a great way.
Some of the earliest labyrinths go back over 4,000 years. In Greek mythology there’s a wonderful story of King Minos’ labyrinth in Crete. As time went on, labyrinths were used in Christian cathedrals when people could not journey to the Holy Land because it was too dangerous.
In the doctor of ministry program, there’s a combination of bringing together academic work with a very focused project in our local ministry setting, with lay and clergy very much involved together. We had our formal dedication of the labyrinth in June 2008.
We encourage a three-fold experience of walking the labyrinth. As you walk into the labyrinth, it’s to release any burdens you carry, any difficulties, any struggles. In the middle, it’s to receive from God, to listen, to see what you need to be attuned to in your life. The third piece is to return. After you’ve received from God, how do you return back to the world?
Different groups use it. Families use it, people in the midst of difficult decisions or in need of healing. We’ve seen a great response from many individuals, finding respite, release and renewal from walking the labyrinth.
Whatever I’m dealing with at that particular moment affects how I enter it. If there’s a particular pastoral concern or personal concern or world concern, any of those pieces I’m wrestling within me, I bring that to the walking experience. Whatever I take in at the beginning affects my entire walk.
It’s 70 feet in diameter. The pathways themselves are 36 inches wide, so we could make it handicap accessible. You walk on crushed granite. And then we used paver stones to line it. We used about 24 tons of granite and 1,200 paver stones. The total cost was about $7,000. The labor was donated by members of the church.
We think it would hold up in a tornado pretty well.—Christopher Hann
—Drew Magazine, Winter 2010