Community labyrinth to open at Claremont Presbyterian Church

Claremont Presbyterian Church will dedicate its new outdoor labyrinth, intended for use by the entire community, at a workshop later this month.

The free workshop will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, February 23, on the church’s campus at 1111 N. Mountain Ave. The event will feature a talk on the history and use of labyrinths, an opportunity to walk the labyrinth and refreshments.

The 24-foot-diameter labyrinth is constructed of river rock and decomposed granite to blend with the natural landscaping on the northeast corner of the church campus. The installation is near the intersection of Mountain and Santa Clara avenues, directly across from Mountain View Elementary School.

“We believe this is the first labyrinth in Claremont intended for the whole community,” said Karen Sapio, the church’s senior pastor. “It is deliberately located at the border of our church property. We want people to find it. We want to invite encounters with people we don’t know. We want people who are merely walking by, or delivering their kids to school, or out for a morning run to become curious about the labyrinth and enter our space, our campus.”

A labyrinth is not a maze, but rather a single, serpentine path from the outside of a circle to its center. Participants walk the labyrinth path to the center and follow the same path out. For some, walking the path symbolizes a journey to the center of oneself and back outward to the world.

“We installed this permanent labyrinth to offer our congregants and the entire community a tool for mindfulness practice, meditation and prayer,” Rev. Sapio said. “While labyrinths are ancient symbols, we think they have relevance and use in our modern world.”

The permanent labyrinth is an outgrowth of Claremont Presbyterian’s work with the symbols during the past few years that included a day-long conference and use of a canvas “pop-up” labyrinth for temporary installations around Claremont.

“This past year, we have worked hard to create ministries that face outward, that invite new people to engage with our congregation and its ministries. The labyrinth is our latest expression of this effort,” she said.

The labyrinth installation was made possible by a bequest from church member and Claremont resident Nancy Arce.

Labyrinths are ancient symbols dating back millennia, and were incorporated into the floors of the great gothic pilgrimage cathedrals in Europe. One of the most famous examples was built around 1200 in the nave floor of the Chartres Cathedral outside of Paris.

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