Jenna Knapp: Labyrinth Society of Lynden Sculpture Garden

Traditionally used for meditative practices, labyrinths are a series of circular circuits with only one path to the center. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth presents no navigational challenge, allowing a meditative state to wash over those who walk its winding path. Labyrinths can be walked to process life’s transformations, to celebrate, to give thanks, to look inward, and to release what is no longer serving you. We can walk to grieve, remember, receive, rise, and return to the now. I invite visitors to walk it slowly, while they breathe deeply, and turn inward. Let the labyrinth become a mirror.

More About Lynden’s Labyrinth & Jenna Knapp’s Personal History:

After a long history with the sculpture garden itself, creating Lynden’s very own labyrinth has been an incredible full circle project. Lynden embodies a certain innocence for me personally. It reminds me of a season before loss, trauma, and mental health struggles took over my life temporarily from June of 2015 to January 2017. It holds me accountable for remembering who I was before that chapter and who I’ve become since. I bring all of my selves to the evolving labyrinth: past, present, and future. And I invite visitors to do the same.

The first labyrinth I walked was at Rogers Memorial Hospital in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, during my first mental health hospitalization. According to that particular hospital’s rules and regulations, if you gained permission and trust, you would be granted thirty minutes of outdoor time each day. One of the outdoor activities was walking the labyrinth on the grounds.

It became a significant form of meditation that I did both solo and, at times, with groups. One of my fondest memories was of holding hands in a circle with three other patients as we announced what we were going to do differently after being discharged. Even though our lives were steeped in turmoil as we experienced what many would consider their lowest low as inpatients of a psychiatric unit, anything felt possible at the center of that circle.

This experience inspired me to create a labyrinth at Lynden for many to enjoy. With the help of volunteers and Lynden Sculpture Garden’s land managers, Kyle Welna and Robert Kaleta, Jr., I have created a five-circuit walking labyrinth, 69 feet in diameter!

As you walk the path you make 180-degree turns each time you enter a new circuit. As you change your direction you shift your awareness from right brain to left, inducing a meditative state of consciousness. Unlike mazes, labyrinths are comprised of one simple path with no blocks or dead ends, but instead a center that becomes an end and a beginning. The center is a space for meditation, prayer, reflection, release, and intention setting. A charged container for anything you may be carrying.

Nestled away from Lynden’s formal lawn, this labyrinth is carved into the tall grasses of the native prairie and evolves with the seasons, peaking in the early fall when the field is bright with goldenrod.

We want to extend our gratitude to all of the folks who have volunteered their time and energy to help us create this labyrinth over the past year and a half, and who have continued to help with maintenance. You have helped with everything from broadcasting native Wisconsin seed in the middle of winter to invasive buckthorn and sweet clover removal. You have participated in public programs and spread the word to family and friends. Thank you! Last summer (the second summer of the labyrinth’s existence) visitors saw more native plants coming up from the prairie preservation work we had been doing. Most importantly, during this long pandemic season, the labyrinth has provided a respite and place of peace for many.

If you know someone who would benefit from walking this labyrinth, please let them know that it exists and is available to them. It can now be found on the World Wide Labyrinth Locator and viewed from Google Earth!

Click here to learn more about Jenna Knapp.