On the corner of Walnut and Williams streets, between a hill and stable, lies a patch of concrete. Unlike the parking lots it overlooks, this concrete serves a deeper function. The intricate design inlayed in it is a labyrinth.
According to Robert Ferre, the former head of Labyrinth Enterprises LLC, the labyrinth isn’t just a place — it’s an experience.
“It takes us inside, a deeper place in ourselves, a place where people don’t necessarily go very frequently,” Ferre said.
Labyrinth visitors are invited to walk the path, but different visitors have different experiences. Children run through it as a game. Some people use it to pray, others as a way to relax.
“It’s kind of a blank slate in some ways,” Ferre said.
The Boone Hospital Labyrinth is one of 1,100 labyrinths that Ferre and his team have helped build. This one is a Chartres labyrinth, a replica in size and design of the labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral in France. Built in the thirteenth century, Ferre said it is the most intricate, elegant and symbolic of labyrinth patterns. It’s also the most common, making up about 70 percent of all the labyrinths Ferre has worked on.
Around the outside are 112 cogs. The winding path inside is divided into four quadrants. In the center, a simple rosette marks the end of the path.
Although this design originated in a cathedral, Ferre said it transcends different religions.
“Originally it was associated with Christian symbolism, but people aren’t even familiar with any association they might have, and they just walk them and they benefit from them,” Ferre said.
Boone Hospital opened the labyrinth as part of its spiritual care services which, according to the website, is intended to help people “find the strength to deal with natural fears, worries, doubts and questions which may arise in the face of illness.” Ferre believes facilities like these are an essential part of wholesome healing.
“The reason we put them in hospitals generally is that science has lots of technology for healing the body, but nothing for healing the soul,” Ferre said.
This story is part of our FAV(e) Places series, which highlights the history, architecture and character of the houses of worship in our community. If you’d like to see your place of worship featured, email Editor Kellie Kotraba at kellie.kotraba@ReligionNews.com. Click here to see the entire series.