Enjoying the Labyrinth


blue/white galaxy in black space from istock

We humans like our circles. We have circles of friends. Our stories and films take the shape of a circle in which the end refers back to the beginning. We talk about how the aged among us grow more and more childlike, closing the circle of life.



The most powerful circles are the circles within circles in which we grow ever closer to the center. Like peeling an onion, or a mystery. That is the magic of the spiral, a form so ancient you find it carved on cave walls and buried in tombs, a form so elemental it’s found in the vastness of space.


Labyrinths are human-created spirals designed to encourage mediation, to bring one closer to one’s self, one’s center, one’s truth. I walked one a few days ago, on the Summer Solstice, as it happened.

Two labyrinths in the woods of Rolling Ridge Retreat Center in No. Andover, MA on solstice day, 2011

As a delayed birthday present, my friend Alex took me to Rolling Ridge Retreat Center in North Andover, MA, a place that offers not one but two outdoor labyrinths.


Both were built by Lesley University student Dot Irwin in 2002. The stones were brought by her classmates and friends from their homes and travels all around the world. She dedicated the labyrinths, “to all those seeking peace. May we take the peace that we find here into our daily lives, then out into the world.”


Thank you, Dot. I certainly felt more peaceful after walking your labyrinths. Moving slowly in a meditation that felt like prayer, in a place as sacred as a cathedral, I appreciated the site you chose, the woods by the shore of Lake Cochichewick.

Lake Cochichewick Rolling Ridge Retreat and labyrinths June 21, 2011


Alex and I touched the trees and the stones, mingled with the wildflowers, reflected on the beauty that surrounded us. We looked up at the tall straight pines and marveled at the clump of birch trees standing whitely amidst the leafy green. We went deep within and felt connected to all the earthly elements outside of us.

Cheryl walking labyrinth in the woods of Rolling Ridge Retreat Center in No. Andover, MA on solstice day, 2011

Alex Ericson walking labyrinth at Two labyrinths in the woods of Rolling Ridge Retreat Center in No. Andover, MA on solstice day, 2011

What a special birthday celebration. Thank you, Alex; you’re the woman!


Wherever you are, reader, I urge you to find the labyrinth nearest you. Refresh yourself. Take a spiral walk and see what it brings you.

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Posted in Feeding the Spirit Within and Summer Beauty.



7 Replies

  1. Jane Vandenburgh Jun 26th 2011

    Nice piece, Cheryl, spent much of our two hours on Mt Tam early yesterday morning (I go out with a group thee days a week) in silence, breathing one-two-three & trying to get past Naming. Wonderful experience. I’d love to walk a labyrinth & will see where there might be one in Northern California.

    XXX J

  2. Jane, Northern California MUST have labyrinths. Let me know when you try one. I’m betting you’ll be a fan for life. xoxo Cheryl

  3. Cheryl – great to read about your experience at Rolling Ridge walking the Labyrinths. I enjoyed looking at more of your blogs and the weaving of writing, spirit, nature and social justice. All dear to me. I would love to show and tell you more about this historic place and hope you can come for a tour.

  4. Is it like a maze where you have to find your way, or was it obvious? I would not do well in a maze, would be lost indefinitely.,

  5. Larry, thanks for the offer of a tour. Will take you up on it sometime. The grounds and buildings are fabulous! Cheryl

  6. Kim, no trails of breadcrumbs needed. Easily followed because the point is to sink into the land, the movement, the spirit.

  7. very nice post, i certainly love this website, keep on it

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