World Labyrinth Day, come to Lyons Labyrinth on May 6th
World Labyrinth Day: Meet-Up @ The Lab, May 6, 2023
All over the world, at 1 p.m. local time, dedicated folks will be holding a Walk for Peace at labyrinths on Saturday, May 6, 2023, in celebration of the 15th Anniversary of World Labyrinth Day, always held on the first Saturday in May (http://www.worldlabyrinthday.com).
Labyrinths have a unicursal, spiral-like, meandering pathway: one way in and one way out, unlike mazes which have multiple entrances, and many paths leading to dead ends and blind alleys, making it easy to get lost and harder to find the center. However, it is possible, even for veterans of walking meditation, to become distracted, tangled in thought, turned around, to suddenly “come to” and find themselves “awake” at mouth, rather than the center, of the labyrinth.
The designer, builder and long-term Steward of the Lyons Memorial Labyrinth (known to locals as “The Lab”) is hosting a low-key, word-of-mouth, anniversary gathering, rain or shine, on Saturday, May 6, 2023, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., MDT, in Lyons, Colorado. The Steward is also marking a personal milestone, a three-quarter century anniversary of having completed 75 trips around the sun.
The Lab is one of the largest traditional seven-path labyrinths in Colorado, a bit larger than a basketball court but smaller than a football field. The Lab, open to the public daily from dusk to dawn, sits on the banks of the South St. Vrain Creek, upriver from the Rocky Mountain Botanic Gardens, across from Bohn Park and the Martin Parcel at the edge of Lyons, just off Highway 7 heading to Allenspark, across from the bee keeper hives on Meily Street.
The Steward started building the labyrinth on September 14, 2014, the first anniversary of the 2013 Great Front Range Flood. Thousands of rounded cobbles and boulders, some weighing as much as 500 pounds, were dropped on the banks of the river, some buried deep in the alluvial silt left after the flood waters receded. And these hand-picked, multi-colored stones became the walls of The Lab.
Using a personally-designed labyrinth seed pattern, the Lab Steward arranged the stones in seven multi-directional, spiraling circles, digging out and moving rocks using ancient techniques known to stone masons and pyramid builders, sans slave labor. The Steward used hand tools, rakes, limb-loppers, wheels, pulleys, shovels, pry bars, rollers, ramps, and ropes, but no motorized equipment, to build the labyrinth. During construction, many pairs of gloves, finger tips repeatedly mended, sadly became fodder for landfill.
Stones in the labyrinth walls were arranged with the beauty and shape of each stone in mind. Over the last nine years, The Steward has cleared out and hauled away hundreds of pounds of flood debris, metal junk, fallen trees and branches, expanding the paths and rearranging stones thousands of times. The Lab is always a work in progress as new stones are added and old ones relocated to outline other paths and trails in the garden.
Locals use The Lab to meet up with friends and family, gathering for intimate picnics, reunions, engagements, weddings, rituals, and ceremonies, including private memorial services.
Visitors often bring tokens and trinkets to leave as personal offerings, and artists make temporary installations that pop up overnight and disappear within days or weeks. Parents and grandparents visit with children, who skip and dance and run and bicycle and trip through the pathways, spending hours playing by the river, making fairy castles under the trees with pebbles, twigs, and twine. Teachers from all over the metro area bring students to The Lab for school outings and day trips. The Lab is a favorite hang-out for Death Doulas and Hospice workers processing layers of grief, mixed with sweet sorrow.
The Lab is a perfect subject for photographers, who capture shadows and reflected light on the standing stones during the magic hours of dusk and dawn. Early morning and late evening visitors often see deer, wild turkeys, blue herons, and, if really fortunate, eagles perched atop the cottonwoods. The Lab is an inviolate domain, a meditative sanctuary, a sheltering oasis, a refuge, a sanctum sanctorum, where folks sit in silence on stones or logs, listening to the river and the music of wind chimes and tinkling bells hanging from tree branches covered in feathered dreamcatchers.
On December 30, 2020, during the pandemic, The Lab became part of the world’s largest Treasure Hunt when “Panipeg” installed and hid from view a small geo-cache with the moniker “Love a Labyrinth.” In the last two years, 110 visits to The Lab have been logged at Geocaching.com, where treasure hunters use GPS coordinates to find geocache number GC94H10.
Through serendipity or magic, a lucky few come upon The Lab unexpectedly while exploring the parks and trails near Lyons. The intention is to have fun while maintaining a wildish and wonderful garden where barefoot adults, free-range children and pets on leashes can play and meditators can hear the sounds of nature, and grace and luck keep fires, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, vandals and hooligans at bay.
All visitors to The Lab are encouraged to practice unregulated, unwritten and unenforceable norms of Stewardship: Take good care, respect for the enjoyment of others, and leave no trace: “Pack it in and pack it out.”
Starting on April 24, 2023, parts of the Martin Parcel near Bohn park closed to the general public during a scheduled fire-mitigation project. The Lab itself will remain open to visitors.
The Steward visits The Lab almost daily as a meditative practice, maintaining the integrity of the garden by removing dangerous, broken, or questionable items. She has painted and drawn thousands of labyrinths since 2005.
Find a labyrinth near you: Visit https://labyrinthlocator.com/. For more information about the Lyons Memorial Labyrinth, visit: https://atcplayshop.blogspot.com.
Invaluable Resource: “The Genesis and Geometry of the Labyrinth: Architecture, Hidden Language, Myths, and Rituals” by Patrick Conty, ©2002.