Many of us landscape our yards with some bushes, trees and maybe some annual flower beds. However, one neighbor in the Riverbend community in Granite Falls has a rather different plan.
When Wyn Flo looks down from her home, perched on a high point in the neighborhood, she might see a little of Lake Hickory as well as a lovely panorama of distant mountains. And in the backyard, a labyrinth.
Not to be confused with a maze, which is meant to be a puzzle, a labyrinth has a winding but single path to the center of a circle. It is not intended to be a challenge to enter or exit.
The purpose of a labyrinth is to provide a meditative walk. Advocates of labyrinths will say it is all about realigning the right brain with the left brain.
Flo lived in California before moving to North Carolina. Her “first exposure to a labyrinth was in Grace Cathedral in San Francisco many years ago. I found it very spiritually moving for me. I would start with a cluttered mind and end up (feeling) very peaceful when I had finished.”
Labyrinths have been found in cave drawings, yet show high levels of thinking. The circuitous path may replicate the patterns of the human brain – which may be why winding through a labyrinth helps smooth out our thoughts.
Walking the same labyrinth is a different experience every time because the walker will bring different thoughts. Sometimes the walk will clear a cluttered mind, and other times the mind will sort out an answer to a question. The experience can be meditative or prayerful, pleasant or profound.
A wealth of information about labyrinths can be found on the Internet. One source, the Labyrinth Society, found at www.labyrinthsociety.org, is headed by psychologists, artists and educators.
That fits for Flo, who is a visual artist, artist mentor and motivational speaker. She will use the labyrinth for personal meditation and share it with friends and churches. Flo also anticipates using the labyrinth during classes she leads.
Building a new home presented the opportunity to take the bare landscape and create the labyrinth Flo has long wanted. She got in touch with Cindy Jordan, chaplain for Catawba Valley Medical Center, who was a great source of information.
Jordan had researched labyrinths in preparation for a cloth labyrinth she developed for the hospital. Catawba Valley Medical Center is one of four hospitals in North Carolina that have labyrinths. There are more than 120 hospitals across the country that have established labyrinths to serve their patients and their families.
Flo purchased a pattern that was created by Lea Goode-Harris at the Santa Rosa Labyrinth Foundation in Santa Rosa, Calif. The labyrinth is 40 feet in diameter and has seven rings.
Husband Mike Flo suggested that they form the pattern using bricks left over from their home construction.
They plan to add some planted areas and fill the path with crushed rock. They plan to complete this project this summer.
Foothill Painters Exhibit
The mountains and foothills of North Carolina seem to nurture artistic inclination in those who live here. Further encouragement comes from organizations.
In the spring of 2002, a group of friends formalized their support for fellow artists by adopting the name Foothill Painters. With this designation, they have held a number of shows in the area. Currently, their collective show is on display at the Art in Healing Gallery at Caldwell Memorial Hospital in Lenoir.
Members live and work in Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba and Lincoln counties. They get together monthly to exchange ideas and critique their work. Sometimes a guest speaker is also invited.
Current members participating in this exhibit are Don Baldwin, Tami Booher, Dianne Bland, Betty Brendle, Dominick D'Ostilio, Pat Flachbart, Anne Fredley, Susan Grant, Nina Hardison, Martha Mauney, Katie Wood McCloy, Janey Miller, Paulette Moss, Charlie Trado, Colleen Wallner, Andy Atkin and Carl Zwingli.
The exhibit takes the theme of magic because the artists use a variety of media and “play with these elements as if they were magic stones, toys and treasures. We make art in the hopes of discovering something remarkable about ordinary life and ourselves,” according to their press release.
The “Magic of the Foothills” exhibit will continue on display through the month of September. Entrance to the gallery within Caldwell Memorial Hospital is from the Mulberry Street entrance. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. There is no charge.
For more information, contact the Caldwell Arts Council at 828-754-2486.