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A snowy labyrinth — especially tranquil
ARLINGTON — Marilyn Oertle and her brother who was in town for the holidays walked Arlington’s labyrinth when it was barely covered in snow recently.
A member of Arlington City Council who lives in town, Oertle said she has walked the labyrinth many times. It was built along the Centennial Trail behind the Union 76 station in downtown Arlington last August.
“It was nice, the snow was clean and fresh,” Oertle said.
“My brother and I have a tradition of taking a walk together when we get together once a year,” Oertle said.
“It’s kind of a personal thing,” she said. “We often share family memories on these walks.”
She said they walked quietly on the labyrinth and didn’t say much, but started talking about it when they continued their walk on the trail to the river.
Labyrinths have been used since ancient times in many cultures. Arlington’s labyrinth is especially meaningful as it was created by an extensive collaboration of community service groups. The flagstone pavers were laid by members of the Arlington Kiwanis Club, the Rotary Club of Arlington and the Arlington Lions Club during the hottest day of the year, in August last summer. The pavers were bought with funds raised at the Arlington Arts Council’s Fall into Art Auction of 2007 and the flagstones were made available at cost by Terrazzo stone suppliers. The nursery, Art by Nature, provided the trees that surrounds the labyrinth at cost, and members of the Arlington Garden Club helped plant them. City staff also contributed by prepping the site with it’s equipment.
Arlington’s recreation manager Sarah Hegge designed the labyrinth because she wanted to add another interesting feature in city parks.
The labyrinth transformed an ugly corner into a beautiful destination where people can now enjoy the outdoors.
“I originally liked the architectural aspect of having a labyrinth in a park,” Hegge said, adding only later did she learn of the spiritual aspects of labyrinths while doing research for her design proposal.
Her research found that the labyrinth represents a journey to one’s own center and back again out into the world. Many labyrinths are found in churches, as the purposeful path can be a powerful tool for finding inner peace.
The labyrinth offers a unique space to slow down and still the mind, especially for people who have a hard time sitting still.
“There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth,” Hegge said.
“The community is invited and encouraged to come and follow the simple flagstone path.”
The theory is, as you approach the center let it be a time to release the thoughts and feelings that occupy your mind. When you reach the center, be still and ponder where you have been and where you are going. As you exit the center, following the same path, it’s time to reflect on any insights that may have come to you while entering.
“It was interesting,” Oertle said. “The snow made it even more quiet and peaceful. We didn’t talk while in the labyrinth, but afterward we walked on down to the river and talked about our mother. We also started talking about our plans for the year and years ahead. It was a great walk.”