A labyrinth can be defined as an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. While it can be compared to a maze, unlike a maze, a labyrinth has no dead ends and only one path that twists and turns to the center.
“Historically, labyrinths have been used for meditation. They have been shown to have health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and creating an atmosphere of calmness which promotes inner peace,” said Carmen Finn, clinical director at Recovering Hope Treatment Center.
Seen as something that could benefit the clients served at Recovering Hope the staff presented the idea of building a labyrinth about a year ago to Recovering Hope’s CEO, Ray Ludowese, who supported the idea and provided funding for it. The purpose was to offer the women a place to engage in mindful activities. Designed by Finn, the labyrinth sits on part of the 48 acres that makes up Recovering Hope, is 150 feet long and is shaped like a butterfly, the symbol of Recovering Hope.
Work on the labyrinth began in April 2020, was completed in June and was done by counselors and clients at Recovering Hope. A wooden archway marks the entryway and leads to a gravel path that winds around and through the butterfly and ends in the center of the labyrinth.
The wings of the butterfly are filled with gardens that have plants and wildflowers native to Minnesota that will attract pollinators. The head of the butterfly is a wildflower/prairie mix. The largest plants in the labyrinth are milkweed which were already growing in the field and left there to attract butterflies. Finn estimates that it will take two to three years for the new plants of the gardens to fully mature.
Future plans include adding signs to label the various plants and to add four to five benches along the path for visitors to use with one bench being placed at the center of the labyrinth. The benches are being built by one of the counselors with the help of some of the women at the center. The day care at the treatment center is planning a butterfly project with the children to hatch butterflies and release them in the gardens of the labyrinth. It is hoped that the gardens of the labyrinth will attract butterflies in the future.
Eventually rocks will line the gardens and paths. These rocks will be painted by women who have graduated from the program with messages of hope to encourage women newly entering the program. The rocks will also show the success stories to the community when the labyrinth is eventually opened for community use. Currently the labyrinth is only open to staff and clients of the treatment center.
“The labyrinth offers a healing adventure for the moms and kids at Recovering Hope. The butterfly is a metaphor for our clients-they are emerging into healthy women and mothers,” said Finn. She looks forward to seeing the growth of the labyrinth in the next couple of years and to adding new components to it.