Labyrinth

On the way back to Virginia from Illinois (are we there yet, Dad?), we made a fun detour in Indiana. Many years ago and during a much warmer time of the year, Happy visited New Harmony, IN with her mother, Grandmama Betty, her mother’s sister, Aunt Pauline, and her mother’s Sunday School class. The ladies (and their male bus driver) ate lunch together at a very nice old-fashioned place whose name has totally escaped her. What she does recall is antique shopping afterward and the bus driver taking them past a labyrinth on the way out of town. She had never been to a labyrinth, but was fascinated by the idea of them.

Go that way

Go that way


She did a bit of online research and learned that labyrinths are meditation sites. Often they are associated with a church or religious group. The one in New Harmony has been re-done and dedicated to the Harmonists who once settled there.
Here we are by the sign in front of the hedge maze (Labyrinth).  You can see the stone temple behind us.

Here we are by the sign in front of the hedge maze (Labyrinth). You can see the stone temple behind us.


After further research, Happy discovered that there was a true reproduction labyrinth just like the one at Chartres, France in her own town. It sits on the grounds of Union Theological Semininary, and she has walked it three times now. The one at New Harmony was different in that, instead of one way in to the center and the same way out, it is technically called a hedge maze, and it has a distinctive path in and another one out. The Harmonists wanted it to be called a Labyrinth with a capital “L” and so of course it was.
The hedges have been trimmed for the winter, and here we are sitting atop them.  Did I mention that it was very cool in the morning that day with winds strong enough to send us sailing literally over the hedge?  Brrrr - we were not dressed for this weather.

The hedges have been trimmed for the winter, and here we are sitting atop them. Did I mention that it was very cool in the morning that day with winds strong enough to send us sailing literally over the hedge? Brrrr - we were not dressed for this weather.


Because of the brisk wind, we opted to do a quick look and come back next spring to actually walk the maze – when we hope it will be a LOT warmer. Here’s a picture of how it should look then.
This picture came from the University of Southern Indiana web site.  Isn't the hedge pattern pretty?

This picture came from the University of Southern Indiana web site. Isn't the hedge pattern pretty?


At the center is what’s referred to as the Stone Temple, which proved to be quite interesting as well. We managed to go in far enough to access it. There we discovered that it, too, seems to be a place for meditation.
Where we sit to do a bit of contemplation ... and get out of that wind.

Where we sit to do a bit of contemplation ... and get out of that wind.


One of the more interesting features of this stone building was the sky blue painted Wedgewood-like interior domed ceiling which had various sayings printed around the center. From our position, we could look up and see the sayings on the ceiling, designed to help us focus and think about things of importance.
Isn't that neat?  Like being in a cathedral dome.

Isn't that neat? Like being in a cathedral dome.


This one was our favorite saying.

This one was our favorite saying.


Did we mention the cutting wind? Although we Hittys are made of stout birch and basswood and so were not much bothered by the actual cold, Happy and Mr. George, being human, suffered some. However, we couldn’t leave without a final picture at the main road sign. Note, our kindly host is oblivious, as was the photographer, to the sudden breeze that forced us into our precarious position. And no, despite our appearance, we are not worshiping the earth.
Oops - guess we were too close to the edge and the wind toppled us over.  Thankfully, we were not injured.

Oops - guess we were too close to the edge and the wind toppled us over. Thankfully, we were not injured.


A small bit of re-arranging set things (and us) to rights. A farewell photo of us with Mr. George, now with both hands in his jacket pockets, shivering in the morning sun.
Ah, the Heartland, where everything is flat and the wind blows free.  Please, carry me (us) back to old Virginia.

Ah, the Heartland, where everything is flat and the wind blows free. Please, carry me (us) back to old Virginia.


If you become interested in the labyrinths of the Harmonists, we recommend this link to an article in Caerdroia, The Journal of Mazes and Labyrinths.

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One Response to “Labyrinth”

  1. More about Hitty Geneva Grace « Hitty Writes Says:

    […] herself, since she had never been to one. I of course, have been to this one and also to the one at New Harmony, IN. The day was sunny, but windy, so we bundled her up in a shawl we loaned to her and her bonnet and […]

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