: From left, Lake Prince Woods residents Betty Anne Lyle and Jane Sommers and director of spiritual life Woodie Rea walk the new labyrinth at Lake Prince Woods.
: From left, Lake Prince Woods residents Betty Anne Kyle and Jane Sommers and director of spiritual life Woodie Rea walk the new labyrinth at Lake Prince Woods.

LPW opens labyrinth

Published 8:01pm Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A new way to pray and meditate is open to the public at the Lake Prince Woods retirement community.

The community dedicated its labyrinth in a service on Sunday. The Rev. Dr. Woodie Rea, director of spiritual life at the campus, said the labyrinth is a tool for prayer and meditation.

“It’s really designed to be a walking prayer,” he said. “It’s taking prayer beyond the traditional and orthodox.”

According to the Labyrinth Society, labyrinths have been used since the Middle Ages and were a central feature of many of the European Roman Catholic churches.

Labyrinths differ from mazes in that they have only one path to the center and take the same path back to the starting point, Rea said. They also usually don’t have very high walls. Mazes, on the other hand, have a variety of paths that can lead to dead ends and have walls that prevent you from seeing the way out.

The labyrinth path at Lake Prince Woods is made of gravel and lined with grass. Rea said it’s accessible to wheelchairs with wide wheels. It has a tree and a bench in the center.

Rea said labyrinths used to symbolize religious pilgrimages for people who could not actually go on the journey. These days, many people use them to guide their prayer or meditation.

You can walk slowly or quickly along the path and stay in the center as long as you like before walking back out, Rea said.

“When you get to the middle, you stay in the middle as long as the spirit tells you to.”

Some people say a different prayer at every turn; others don’t.

“There’s no right or wrong way of doing it,” Rea said. “The only two things that are required are an open heart and an open mind.”

Rea said Lake Prince Woods, owned by United Church Homes and Services, is a faith-based campus. Administrators wanted to do something with some unused space on a portion of its property.

“Our residents’ faith development is a big part of life,” he said. The labyrinth is near the starting point of a walking trail that some residents also use for prayer and meditation, he said.

“It just represents a unique and different mode of meditation and praying,” Rea said.

Lake Prince Woods’ is the second labyrinth in Suffolk to be registered with the Labyrinth Society. St. Andrew Presbyterian Church at 1885 Bridge Road also has one.

Rea said the labyrinth at Lake Prince Woods is open to individuals or groups from the public, but folks from outside Lake Prince Woods are asked to call him at 923-5531 to make an appointment to visit.

“This is another way of trying to be a good corporate citizen,” he said.

For more information on labyrinths, visit the Labyrinth Society at www.labyrinthsociety.org.

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