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Labyrinth a place for moving meditation

August 09, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- As Michael Holland walked the outdoor Cretan labyrinth at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Hagerstown Sunday afternoon, he paused to read the plaque affixed to a large flat stone at its center.

That plaque expresses in words the impact the late Sharon Rucker made on the growth and health of the church she loved so dearly. She died in May 2008 at the age 58.

Even the stone that holds the plaque is a tribute to Rucker and her beloved congregation. It was the bottom step of the church's former location on North Potomac Street, saved 12 years ago during the move to 13245 Cearfoss Pike.

"She made a difference here," said Yvonne Pfoutz, a longtime member of the congregation.

On Sunday afternoon, the outdoor labyrinth awaited for members and visitors wanting to meander in their meditations. Inside the meeting room, a Faith in Action fair was being held.

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"A lot of people come here just for the labyrinths," Pfoutz said.

The outdoor version was built in 2003 and opened to the public a year later. In December 2004, church members created an indoor labyrinth, which is a Chartres pattern measuring 22 feet in diameter. The pattern is named for the Chartres cathedral in France, which featured that pattern labyrinth in the church floor.

Children often move through the outdoor labyrinth at breakneck speed, while most adults tend to take their time and even pause along the way. Any way is fine, Pfoutz said.

The outdoor and indoor labyrinths are usually open on the second Sunday of each month from 1 to 3 p.m.

Labyrinths have been in existence for thousands of years, and appear in one form or another in nearly every culture and religion in the world, according to a pamphlet handed out to walkers.

The theory is that labyrinths call people to take a meandering path of the spirit, not the shortest distance between two points.

"I found it relaxing and easy to follow," Holland said as he completed the journey.

Although he attends services regularly at the Unitarian Church, Holland said Sunday marked the first time he walked the labyrinth. He said he enjoyed the experience and plans to do it again.

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