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Labyrinth opens at St. Lukes Episcopal

by: Carole Archer, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church member Jack Bevilacqua, left, and Interim Church Rector and Rev. Elise Astieford walk the new labyrinth on Tuesday, Oct. 3.

Members of St. Luke the Physician Episcopal Church are preparing for a special celebration to mark the opening of the Chartres-style labyrinth that sits just south of the church.

Unlike many celebrations, this event, which will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, will be one of quiet reflection and prayer.

The pattern, named for the labyrinth at the Chartres Cathedral in France, is the most common labyrinth design and is often found in Episcopal cathedrals.

'What is significant to me is the sacred geometry of the Chartres design,' said Interim Rector Elise Astleford, adding that the classic labyrinth is a simpler design. 'It's a very intricate pattern.'

Lynda Glander, office coordinator for the church, said labyrinths are thought to have been in existence since 500 B.C. and are supposed to be pathways to God.

The site that now hosts the labyrinth was originally a meditation garden, which seems appropriate.

'You can't get lost in the labyrinth,' Astleford said. 'It's meditative - it teaches you about life.'

Reportedly when people enter a labyrinth with a question or a concern, they come out with something else, Astleford said.

'You can skip or dance - there's no way to do it wrong,' Astleford said, adding that young children often enjoy running through the twists and turns of a labyrinth.

'For me it's like walking the way of the cross,' Astleford said.

The woman who designed the garden around the labyrinth wanted it to be child-friendly and colorful year-round, Astleford said.

The garden is made up of a wide variety of plants and includes everything from dogwood trees to blueberry bushes and red currant shrubs to draw the eye of those who walk the sacred path.

A 1,500-pound piece of gray basalt that sits in the garden near the entrance of the labyrinth tells the story of the Society of St. Paul, an order of brothers founded by the church rector in the 1950s.

Members of the Society of St. Paul gave $20,000 for the labyrinth, but most of the money has come in the form of private donations from the congregants.

The church sold a number of bricks at $50 a piece to raise money for the project.

Overall, the project is estimated to cost between $50,000 and $60,000.

Construction of the labyrinth has been a real community effort.

Although employees of Labyrinth Enterprises, a company based in St. Louis, did the most of the work measuring and designing the labyrinth, members of the congregation volunteered to help with the installation or donated money for the project.

J. Frank Schmidt and Sons Nursery donated the trees for the garden surrounding the labyrinth, and children from Gresham's Montessori Earth School helped with the plantings.

From the time the congregation voted to install a labyrinth, it took about six months to gather the necessary funds and complete the project.

'It's been really gratifying how many people stepped up to this,' Astleford said.

If you go

What: 'You Are the Beloved,' a quiet day of reflection at St. Luke the Physician Episcopal Church as members of the congregation dedicate their new Chartres-style labyrinth.

When: 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21.

Where: St. Luke the Physician Episcopal Church, 120 S.W. Towle Ave., Gresham.

Cost: $15 per person, which includes lunch.

To register: Call Judy at 503-666-6870, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .