Travel Tuesday: Labyrinths

If you’re looking for a quieter, introspective trip, seek out a labyrinth.

A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools.

While visiting Laughlin, Nevada, a couple of years ago, my Beloved and I escaped the town’s primary entertainment—a casino—to check out Laughlin Labyrinths, a sensory oasis in the middle of the desert.

labyrinth 2

Laughlin Labyrinths were created by Wes Dufek with rocks and geometry. There are a total of eight stone labyrinths in a quarter-mile radius of each other, ranging from 25 to 55 feet. A 36-foot seven-circuit octagon and a 33-foot seven-circuit square labyrinth are the most recent additions to the collection.

Labyrinth 1

Laughlin Labyrinths can be found on the east side of Thomas Edison, between Bruce Woodbury and Casino Drive in Laughlin, Nevada, a quarter mile from each intersection. Look for three yellow posts and walk up the wash.

Walking a labyrinth represents a journey to one’s own center and back again out into the world. Doing so in the desert where almost the only sound is the breeze is an oddly calming experience. There are no bells and whistles, no long lines and no adrenaline, which is a nice alternative to some vacation destinations.

At the time, I didn’t know one ought to walk a labyrinth by following the path in and out; labyrinths, considered by many to be holy ground, are not mazes and there are no dead ends.

I am reminded of this experience because I walked a labyrinth closer to home yesterday: The Labyrinth of St. John in the Wilderness at the Episcopal Church in Elkhorn, Wisconsin.

labyrinth sign

I visited this labyrinth designed in concrete with a couple of other women in my meditation group. (I noted with interest that the labyrinth is across the street from a former church that has been converted into an accountant’s office.)

wilderness labyrinth

The Labyrinth of St. John in the Wilderness can be found at 13 S. Church St., Elkhorn, Wisconsin.

Walking this labyrinth was a different experience. Long-off sirens, passing traffic and chirping birds filled the evening air, but I got into my groove by focusing on my breath and pondering Isaiah 43:19b: “I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

My journey around the circuits took about 20 minutes, and at the end, I was struck with the thought that all I had to do was simply follow the path. It led me in and out without me having to predict the turns and circles. Step by step, I found my way without having to know my way.

You don’t have to visit Laughlin, Nevada, or Elkhorn, Wisconsin, to experience a labyrinth. Labyrinth Locator, an easy-to-use database of labyrinths around the world, offers locations, pictures and contact details for more than 5,800 labyrinths in more than 80 countries across the globe. Check one out.

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