Behind the cemetery of the historic Morning Star Lutheran Chapel at 12900 Idlewild Road is a new legacy labyrinth, built to honor the memory of Shannon Christine Kennedy, who died in 2011 at age 36 after an extended illness.
The site is a special place of unexpected peace and solitude, tucked away near the busy intersection of Idlewild and Matthews-Mint Hill roads.
Kennedy’s mother, Marlene Perrotta, spearheaded the project as a way to remember her daughter and bring peace, beauty and enrichment to congregation and community members who choose to walk its calming path.
“Shannon was a daughter of faith. The labyrinth fit naturally with her journey,” Perrotta said.
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Perrotta said The Morning Star Chapel labyrinth is patterned after the 14th-century labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France. It is 38 feet in diameter and holds 11 walking circles separated by dividers, with many turns along the way.
In the center is the Morning Star symbol, an element carefully chosen for its inclusive nature.
“A lot of labyrinths have Bible verse in the middle, but we didn’t want to sway people’s thoughts. It’s a sacred tool that enriches your life with communion with yourself and God or whoever is the higher power in your life,” Perrotta said.
Local brick mason Bill Stublaski carefully laid the labyrinth’s 9,400 pavers over a period of several months. The project was especially meaningful to him, as Kennedy was the birth-mother of his daughter, Angelica.
Perrotta said there are about 15 labyrinths in the Charlotte area but that this is the only one near Matthews and Mint Hill.
Morning Star Lutheran Pastor John Mouritsen said he hopes the community will discover the labyrinth and that it will become a place of comfort.
“It’s a place of peace in the midst of a very busy world,” Mouritsen said. “It is open to anyone who wants to walk it, and we are hoping to make it available for groups as well. We would like to welcome support groups of all sorts, and we’re looking to connect with the veteran community and neighbors of all faiths from all over the area.”
The labyrinth is accessible through the cemetery gate, and Mouritsen said folks are welcome there any time.
Perrotta said that once you’ve walked a labyrinth, you’re apt to return. “There’s no right or wrong way to walk it. It can be very spiritual or just relaxing and meditative,” Perrotta said. “You don’t feel the same way every time you walk it. It all depends on where you are in your journey.”