spiritual retreat center education

About the Labyrinth

The consistent vision of Marty Milam of Silver Spring, MD, brought together willing hands July 16-25, 2000, to construct a labyrinth in the afternoon shade of the huge spruce tree across the creek from the main house of Borderlands Education and Spiritual Center. Hours of design and planning resulted in paths of grass lined by approximately 10,000 pounds of “planted” stone of natural slate from the surrounding prairie. Based on the model inlaid at Chartres Cathedral in France, the paths begin at an eastern entrance and wind through what once was raised garden beds, edged by the rhubarb patch on one side and the creek grasses on the other. As the summer went on, some rhubarb peeked up in a bare patch, chives were found in another, wild flowers were reestablishing themselves and a thistle or two (in true Celtic fashion) were making the path a bit challenging – especially for those who wanted to walk bare-footed.

Marty began the work and Lori Pearson from Santa Fe caught the vision (we had walked the labyrinth at Ghost Ranch together) and wanted to participate, encouraging her husband Chris to fix fence, tear apart old raised beds, mow and haul rock as well. Teens Amelia Snider and Kim Rodgers from Chevy Chase, MD, were enlisted to help and soon began to feel the draw of the labyrinth as well. Kari Kramer and her new husband, Alex, joined the work crew upon their arrival to Borderlands. The Rev. Anne Barton, then assistant rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Rapid City, SD, joined us for an afternoon, as did the Rev. Bunker Hill, Jane Hill, Phyllis Wipf, Lois McBride and Emily Ahrendt of All Angel’s Episcopal Church in Spearfish, SD. Challenged by an ornery pick up(FORD – Fix Or Repair Daily) that stopped and started on its own schedule, and rainstorms I the afternoon – one lightning strike had the workers fleeing very quickly as they felt it through their feet (the horses did too!) – the labyrinth was completed in seven days, just in time for Marty to be the first person to walk it before she had to head back to Silver Spring.

A Labyrinth Journal was begun for each walker to sign and make comments if they so choose. Marty’s comments reflect some of how this process was determined. “The circle is complete! The Journey begins! I walked with joy and thanksgiving. Thanks for all the helping hands and dedication. Thanks to the earth for the stones and rocks. Thanks to the labyrinth for choosing the place and time. Most of all, thanks to God, through whom all things are possible!”

Amelia Snider had more to say about the process of construction and how it touched her. “Building a structure which will blend in with the earth yet is symbolic to humans and is also so spiritual is very meaningful to me. Touching the earth with my hands made me feel connected to the earth and this land and this place. I will always remember it with love.”

The exhilaration of completing the project was reflected in Kim Rodger’s words. “It’s ready to walk! I walked in and out. It is a wonderful feeling to experience all the energy that has gone into the labyrinth. Thanks to everyone, especially Marty, for helping me find the strength and determination to help in putting together something so wonderful.”

The first pilgrimage group to walk the labyrinth together was based in New Orleans and included participants from Kansas City and Raleigh/Durham, NC. Jo Harriet Haley, director of Sacred Places Travel, remarked, “our early morning labyrinth walk was profound. When we entered the sacred space, the animals quieted and Spooky, who was so interested in petting, respectfully walked away and left us to connect with the divine. We walked, cried, smiled, sat, prayed, - and all changed and grew in our various faiths.”

Cindy Nichols stated, “our group found much peace and healing in walking the labyrinth together. Things “moved” inside of all of us – which are hard to explain…but real. My own personal experience was freeing – relaxed –opening me to some new thoughts and places.”

Bob Graham of Virginia Beach, VA, and an adult companion to an August J2A pilgrimage wrote, “I walked the labyrinth in the early morning – the sun was up, the sky was clean, each turn brought a new vista, an absolute beautiful sight to see, mountains, valleys, horses, trees and grass. A wonderful place to pray.”

As the keeper and protector of this land for this time, I thank Marty especially for spearheading this project and I thank all those named above who put forth their love, energy, sweat and muscle to make the labyrinth possible. It already has blessed many and will continue as it draws people here to experience it. The labyrinth construction mirrored other ranch projects in that they are determined by the energy, ideas and vision of those who come and become part of the community. Perhaps it is the fresh air and clear wilderness setting that frees the creative processes and allows the imagination to soar. Perhaps it is the spirit of the place that remembers the generations and the peoples who have gone before us in connecting to the Great Spirit in this place. Perhaps it is in that borderlands of earth touching sky, culture touching culture, soul touching soul that blesses our footsteps as we walk upon the sacred earth. I am sure it is all this and more that cannot be articulated by the smallness of our human experience in the vastness of the experience of the Holy One.

You, too, are invited to walk the Borderlands labyrinth. Come and walk this sacred ground.

Click Here to read select comments from visitors who walked the labryinth.



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