Sacred Space, Amazing Grace

The labyrinth is complete!  Let’s compare.  Here’s the old MLR labyrinth built by my friend Mary and me in 2005 (photo taken after years of use):


And here it is now, finished and blessed on Friday, July 11, 2014:


What a second week I had at camp!  I learned many things, two of which have really stuck with me as I’m now home recovering:

1) having a best friend is amazing
2) I have more physical endurance than I thought

July 4 ended my first week at camp, and I was fortunate to spend the evening hanging out with one of my former campers.  Her family came up to watch fireworks from the ridge, including her 7-year-old niece, Gillian.  After about 30 minutes hanging out with Gillian, she happily proclaimed, “Welp, guess you’re my best friend!”  I smiled and said, “Guess so!”  I thought her excitement would pass, but she was up to MLR for mini-camp the next week, and boy was she excited to see me.

always dirty

always dirty

Every chance she got, she’d run away from her group to give me a hug.  She didn’t care that I was covered from head to toe in dirt.  She would walk by the labyrinth almost daily while I was working and would yell across the way, “Amanda!  Amanda!  It’s looking good, Amanda!  It’s looking good!” with two thumbs up.  The whole thing was hilarious, but I have to admit: I felt so supported as I toiled away!  Approval from a 7-year-old is just as valid as from anyone else.  At the end of the mini-camp, Gillian saved me a seat for dinner.  I asked her what her favorite part of the week was, and she said, “Seeing you.”  That can’t possibly be the case.  I mean, seriously, these kids have pool time every day!  Not to mention all the games and songs and snacks!  Still, I felt loved.

I needed that kind of encouragement during my second week!  The labyrinth took incredible amounts of physical and mental endurance, and there was a time when I was almost sure I wouldn’t be able to finish by my deadline.  Most mornings, I tried to get in 30-45 minutes of work before our 8am breakfast, then worked from 9-noon, then towards the end began skipping dinner so I could use all of the hours of sunlight I could get, working from 1-8:30 or so.  Then I’d head off the mountain to run errands at Home Depot or Michael’s or Target and grab a cheap bite to eat.  I can’t even believe I was able to do physical labor so many hours a day!  Me, one of the most out of shape people I know!  I was always horrible at running the mile when I was younger, and even still, I’ve never been able to run over 5K (though it seems all my friends are somehow running marathons).  When my body starts to ache, I say to myself, Amanda, you’re not having any fun, and you don’t have to do this.  Then I stop.  What kind of stamina is that?!  But I learned in this project that if I’m truly passionate about something, I do have it in me to persevere.  I’ve seen that in myself both mentally and emotionally, but what a relief to see it physically as well.

14642388426_6e0ba8d63e_oTowards the end of week 2, I began to see that it was possible to truly finish all I had hoped, though I’d have to work hard till the end.  It would not have happened if it weren’t for little angels that were sent to me when I most needed them!  I’d be working all alone on my hands and knees when Perti, or Katie, or Dylan, or the pastor of the week would show up and ask if I needed help.  Former campers of mine kept randomly visiting, wanting to get their hands dirty.  Bill and Basil (the camp handymen) filled every request I made, and usually within a number of minutes… even cutting down a dead tree that was hanging over the labyrinth!  Financial gifts came from surprising places (you can still donate to help cover costs!).  Friends unexpectedly stayed up with me until 1am those last few nights while I finished art projects (or in some cases, they did art projects for me!).  Two babies even came to visit!  The final push to finish mulching the labyrinth and put on final touches came from the SITs (staff in training), which could not have been a more appropriate and full circle way of ending my time at camp.  My last summer as a counselor was in 2008, training the oldest kids to be campers.  And this summer, one of the kids I trained is training the next generation.  They were the ones to complete the labyrinth and were even the first ones to build a fire in the firepit and gather in the sacred space.


In the end, the labyrinth includes these elements:

  • approximately 700 bricks, 35 of which are engraved with words such as love, faith, anger, hope, guilt, peace
  • colored bricks that discretely form the shape of a cross
  • an inner circle made of tree stumps
  • a firepit at the center, made of bricks
  • a baptismal font made from a planter that sits atop the tree stump of the dead tree that was cut down (the giving tree?)
  • two quotes from scripture – one as you enter, and one as you depart
  • lanterns made from Mason jars and tealights that hang around the perimeter of the labyrinth
  • a welcome sign with info about the history and how to of labyrinths
  • a sending sign with the classic prayer, “O God, you have called your servants to ventures…”

The easiest way to see all this (other than my million pictures), is to watch this video:

My final evening at camp, I had the honor of planning a worship service for the staff members at the labyrinth.  It was such a beautiful gathering, as we started outside of the space, had an affirmation of baptism, entered while singing, surrounded the labyrinth, and blessed it.  I have experienced yet another time of mutual hospitality: I was invited to rebuild the labyrinth and to give of my gifts to camp, but in the end, I’m pretty sure I received far more than I could have ever given.  That night, as I celebrated with staff, I realized I had not actually had a chance to walk the completed labyrinth.  So even though the night was far too short, I walked it at 6am the next morning before driving back to CT.  Amazing grace.

6am photo shoot

6am photo shoot

I hope this is the first of many labyrinths I build in my lifetime!  (Interested in commissioning one?  Let’s talk!)  I’m thrilled to cross this hilarious goal off my bucket list!  And it’s all official now, too.  You can find the MLR Labyrinth on the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator website!  I sincerely hope you get a chance to visit and walk the labyrinth at Mar-Lu.  After all, we all need a bit of ordering in our steps!




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