Peace is non-denominational, as is the new Peace Labyrinth Garden at the St. Francis Episcopal Church in Moab.
Labyrinth patterns, which predate Christianity, have long been used as space for meditation, reflection and prayer. Labyrinths can be found around the world, most notably, the Chartres Labyrinth at the Chartres Cathedral in France and its replica at the Washington National Cathedral in the District of Columbia. As with the former, Moab’s own version is based on the same classical shape, albeit smaller, and modeled as The Vision Quest Labyrinth, à la Chartres.
At first glance, the labyrinth appears to be a maze featuring eight pathways and four quadrants, with directions to choose and decisions to make – much like life. However, unlike life, the labyrinth is, by design, scripted to provide the path for you, under the premise that you can instead focus your mind and body inward.
The center of the labyrinth falls into the shape of a six-petal flower, and is provided as a space to sit, meditate, write, pray, or practice dance, tai chi and yoga.
Project director Reb Fleming said the vision of St. Francis Episcopal Church is to create sacred space for the residents of and visitors to Moab.
“We believe many people seek spiritual experience, a connection with the Divine, but not all people are comfortable entering a church,” she said. “Therefore, we hope to use our space for people to feel welcome and safe.”
The space will be open 24 hours a day, free of charge, and is welcome to everyone, including children, adults and pets.
“While I was painting the labyrinth, I had a woman stop by to admire the work, and she said when I was finished, she would bring her dog back to walk the labyrinth,” Fleming said. “I think St. Francis would have liked that answer!”
The labyrinth has been a labor of love, with donated time and material. The base is poured concrete and the design was hand-painted by Fleming and a team of volunteers.
In 2003, Paul Heath and Linda Nawlin similarly designed and installed a labyrinth in Salt Lake City, along the Jordan River Parkway, north of Seven Peaks Waterpark.
“The community has been great about keeping this smaller scale public art project up and running, where it’s a 60-foot cobblestone outdoor labyrinth that the community has really taken ownership of and takes good care of,” Heath said.
The church hopes for similar community embracement here in Moab; however, the labyrinth is only one facet of the church’s extended peace garden project. Plans include thoughtfully placed reading and writing benches facing a sculpture garden consisting of pieces of art and design that represent earth, wind, water and sound.
A member of the church is building a small lending library, providing books of interest for patrons to share and exchange. Eventually, there will also be a food donation box.
There are plans to create a peace-pole garden, which portrays poles of varying heights and design, expressing through words and art, the notions of peace, imagination, creativity, friendship, kindness and community. Local artists are encouraged to contribute to the project.
According to Fleming, the church also envisions a Zen sand garden where people can “move the sand as their mind and spirit directs.”
“We hope to use this space to bring children and help them understand the concept of peace and how they can be involved in bringing it about in their own lives,” she said. “We believe that art, beauty and positive expression can and do change our world.”
Moab Mayor and St. Francis parishioner Dave Sakrison said that the church is trying to provide a space for the community at large.
“There is not going to be any preaching there, but I think it demonstrates that we are part of the community and we care about the community,” Sakrison said. “Hopefully, people can find solace and comfort and hopefully a little entertainment when it is all done.”
What: Labyrinth Peace Garden
When: Daylight hours
Where: St. Francis Episcopal Church, 250 Kane Creek Blvd.
Information: 801-540-8277 or email@example.com
We believe many people seek spiritual experience, a connection with the Divine, but not all people are comfortable entering a church. Therefore, we hope to use our space for people to feel welcome and safe.
Local church welcomes community to a non-denominational sacred space
To learn more about the garden or to volunteer, contact Reb Fleming at 801-540-8277, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.