The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Spiritual labyrinth connects the faithful

St. Xavier and Epiphany churches join same path


Tony Gorman photo

Parishioners of St. Xavier’s Catholic Church and Epiphany Lutheran and Episcopalian Church attended a dedication Sunday of the new labyrinth built between the two churches on Pioneer Drive.

The once overgrown lot between two churches on Pioneer Dr. has been transformed into what Rev. Phillip Kettering of Epiphany Lutheran and Episcopal Church calls a spiritual labyrinth.

The winding path, created by Skylar Plath as an Eagle Scout project, not only spans the land between Epiphany and St. Francis Xavier church next door, it opens the door to the community by providing a space dedicated to pondering spiritual questions Kettering said.

“If you walk the whole thing, it’s a quarter mile,” he said of the winding, gravel lined path envisioned by Plath.

The Eagle Scout project became a community affair, with numerous local businesses and community members chipping in materials and labor to create the winding path, dotted with benches, rock-scaping, inspirational messages and flora.

“Everybody did pieces,” Father Frank Reitter of St. Xavier’s said. “For me, it’s good stewardship of the land.”

The lot, which is owned by St. Xavier’s, has sat empty for decades and was originally purchased for the building of a Catholic school.

“Now it’s serving another educational service,” Reitter said.

The labyrinth is open to the public and is intended to provide a quiet space for contemplative thinking, or easing troubled minds. Or whiling away a few moments in a peaceful setting.

Tony Gorman photo

Sklyer Plath hangs a welcome sign last Sunday at the entrance to his Eagle Scout project.

Kettering said he sees it as more of a spiritual path, rather than a religious one. And it was hoped the space would be welcoming to all.

“We wanted things that were helpful for the community,” he said.

Literature Kettering provided on the traditional walking of a labyrinth in the Christian tradition states that there are three distinct phases referred to as a “Trinitarian” way.

Purgation, walking to the center, illumination, standing in the center, and union, walking back out.

“The three phases were understood to be: purging the soul of sins or other encumbrances, being illuminated to a deeper level of understanding once reaching the center, and then being in deeper union with the human community,” the literature said. “A more modern way of saying this is: releasing, receiving and returning.”


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