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Philadelphia Inquirer: Phoenixville's Labyrinth: Ancienttradition comes full circle in an urban field

  • Subject: [cg] Philadelphia Inquirer: Phoenixville's Labyrinth: Ancienttradition comes full circle in an urban field
  • From: "Alliums" garlicgrower@green-logic.com
  • Date: Fri, 03 Jun 2005 08:28:00 -0400
  • Thread-index: AcVoN62xZ161hM58Qem3ySvw8623Ig==

Hi, Folks!

Here's the article in today's (6/3) Philadelphia Inquirer.  In the Chester
County edition, we've got a mention on the front page and then we've above
the fold (1st story) in the Local News section.  There's also the labyrinth
drawing from our brochure and two pictures of me at the labyrinth, one with

Don't forget the labyrinth will be dedicated tomorrow (6/4) at 1 pm at the
garden site (412 Fairview Street, Phoenixville, PA) with live music by Mib
Campbell (keyboard) and her colleagues (flute and trumpet), presentations by
State Representative Carole Rubley and Chester County Commissioner
Dinniman's office and a formal thank-you to everyone who labored for the
last year to create this gift to the community.  Come join us and consider
using the labyrinth as part of your daily routine for stress management and
problem solving!

Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden and Labyrinth

A mission of 
St. John's United Church of Christ, 315 Gay Street, Phoenixville, PA  19460



Ancient tradition comes full circle in an urban field

Behind a public housing project, a group has built a labyrinth, and hopes
walkers can find peace there.

By Reid Kanaley
Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

A field behind a public housing project in Phoenixville seems an unlikely
spot for reviving an ancient tradition.

But it is just such a place at the north end of Fairview Street where
volunteers, and dozens of teenage offenders doing community service, have
been digging and planting for a year to create a labyrinth - a circuitous
walking path that enthusiasts see as an age-old aid to meditation, prayer
and self-reflection.

"A labyrinth is a place of peace. We wanted to offer one in Phoenixville,
because the world gets so frantic," Dorene Pasekoff, 43, the borough
resident heading the project, said yesterday.

For many people, the word labyrinth evokes tortuous mazes, dark passages and
blind alleys. However, the Phoenixville labyrinth, like some in and around
European cathedrals that date to Gothic times, is merely a path that winds
around and around inside a circle that measures about 50 feet in diameter.

The one in Phoenixville will be dedicated in a public ceremony at 1 p.m.

Proponents say that, for the religious-minded, a labyrinth is a conduit of
prayer. For others, a 15-minute walk around it, while concentrating on the
path, clears the mind to meditate, solve problems, or deal with grief.

"It's a journey, not a game," said Ed O'Neill, 49, Pasekoff's cousin, who
said he had devoted much of the last year to the labyrinth project. He and
Pasekoff are members of the church sponsoring the labyrinth and an adjoining
community garden, Phoenixville's St. John's United Church of Christ.

Labyrinths are coming back. A growing number of religious and community
groups have installed them in the last few years in churchyards and gardens.
A Web site, the World Wide Labyrinth Locator, lists about 1,600 labyrinths,
including 60 in Pennsylvania and 37 in New Jersey.

Veriditas, the San Francisco group that runs the Web site, calls itself "the
voice of the labyrinth movement," and sells 36-foot-wide portable
painted-canvas labyrinths for $3,300. Roberta Sautter, a spokeswoman for the
group, said some hospitals and prisons had set up labyrinths.

"A labyrinth gives you all the benefits of yoga, except you don't have to
sit still," said Pasekoff.

She conceded that the Phoenixville labyrinth was not pretty - yet. It
amounts to a ditch with berms piled with wood shavings, newspaper and soil.
Grass and perennial seedlings planted on the berms will take at least
another year to cover the labyrinth in a carpet of green, she said.

"It doesn't look like much now," said O'Neill. "But when it gets done, it'll
last hundreds of years."

Much of the work - laborious shoveling through shale to form the shallow
walking path - has been done by about 60 teenagers from a program for
first-time offenders run by the Christian Brothers' St. Gabriel's Hall in

"They've been working on this labyrinth for a year now," said Robyn Buseman,
a program director at St. Gabriel's. "They get a sense of accomplishment, of
pride that they're doing something positive for the community."

The Phoenixville Community Health Foundation donated $3,000 for materials to
build the labyrinth.

"In Phoenixville, they really pulled that together very nicely, using
different groups," said Lynne Texter of LabyrinthJourney, a six-year-old
Glenside group that holds "labyrinth workshops" for a variety of
organizations, churches, and retreat centers.

The handful of labyrinths in Southeastern Pennsylvania include a brick path
installed in 2003 at St. Asaphs Church on Conshohocken State Road in Bala
Cynwyd, and a gravel walk at the Church of the Loving Shepherd on South New
Street in West Chester.

Loving Shepherd's pastor, D. John Woodcock, said yesterday that strangers
showed up at the church every day at the church to walk the labyrinth, which
opened just days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"It was a wonderful gift of healing for folks, and it was healing for us as
we worked," Woodcock said.

Contact staff writer Reid Kanaley at 610-701-7637 or

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