‘Healing Path Labyrinth’ dedicated in Lents

Take a look, and find out why they ripped out a concrete patio to install this unique feature. You’ll be surprised who has used it most often …

The “Healing Path Labyrinth” now graces the front, outdoor approach to Pilgrim Lutheran Church.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Since before anyone can remember, a large concrete apron greeted visitors to Pilgrim Lutheran Church in the Lents neighborhood. It’s there no longer – now replaced by a colorful labyrinth.

Named the “Healing Path Labyrinth” by those who created it, this new entryway was installed between SE 91st Avenue and the church entryway, and dedicated on the afternoon of September 25.

Volunteers Alys Allwardt and Nancy Tingley show off the project they helped organize.

“We named it the Healing Path Labyrinth partly because our church is dedicated to healing on all levels, for all people – including our local community, and the Earth as well,” explained one of the project’s organizers, Alys Allwardt.

To help defray expenses, volunteers applied for, and received funds from, a City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services Community Watershed Stewardship Program grant, Allwardt told East Portland News.

They’ve been wanting to put one or more labyrinths either outside or inside the church building, she said, but till now didn’t have funds for the project.

“The grant allowed us to remove concrete, and replace it with ‘rainwater-pervious’ pavement. Along with the rain garden that collects the rainwater off part of our roof, much of our rainwater is filtered before it goes down into the ground. This seemed like the best opportunity to do it for the least cost – and also to benefit our earth.”

A “rain garden”, off to the side of the new labyrinth, naturally filters rainwater from the church’s roof.

The labyrinth is the only project of its kind in the area, remarked volunteer Nancy Tingley about the project. “I think it’s first, having a ‘pervious pavement’ labyrinth and rain garden combination.

“And, we thought that this area of town, here in outer East Portland, is a good place to have a ‘Healing Path’,” Tingley added.

What surprised her, Allwardt said, “is that schoolchildren who wait for their bus here are probably the ones who’ve walked it the most, since it’s been completed! Their parents say they’ve seen it happen. It’s kind of a fun game for them, perhaps, and maybe helps get their brain ‘situated’ to have a good day.”

Retired Pastor Dale Jamtgaard contemplates the origins of labyrinths.

During the dedication, retired Pastor Dale Jamtgaard explained that the word “labyrinth” is of pre-Greek (Minoan) origin, one which the Greeks used to refer to the Palace of Knossos in Crete.

“The design of labyrinths go back to 2,000 and 3,000 B.C., when these were the signs were found on the walls of caves,” explained Jamtgaard. “It’s had a lot of different meanings for different cultures. In the Christian church, the labyrinth is a place for people to walk, like a pilgrim to the center, on their way to finding God.”

Rain or shine, the Healing Path Labyrinth is available to the public.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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