For many, a labyrinth is the path worth taking

Stina Sieg
Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

SNOWMASS VILLAGE ” How do you quiet your own, noisy mind? For some, it’s gardening, or perhaps long drives on open roads. Tae Bo, anyone?

For Linda Rutland, 67, the answer is labyrinths. And she’s more than willing to tell you about it.

“It gives you a different view of life and what it can be like,” she said, with her soft, Southern lilt. “It also gives you an insight into people and what people’s lives are like.”

Sound good? Rutland thought so. She feels there’s a mystique, a spiritual curiosity, that has brought people around the world to labyrinths for more than 4,000 years. It’s that searching that still draws them to the labyrinth in Snowmass Village every holiday season. And it’s the same push that brought Rutland herself to her first one, a decade ago.

It was 1997 or 1998, she said, and she just wanted to know what they were all about. With a friend, she made a “pilgrimage” to Albuquerque, N.M., where labyrinth scholar Lauren Artress was teaching a course on facilitating the experience. During the class, Rutland learned the history of the meditation tools, and found that they weren’t mazes at all, but tightly coiled paths, with a center, and an entrance/exit. This was no new fad, she saw, as she was presented with labyrinth examples from Hopis, Tibetans and ancient Jewish culture.

But still, even surrounded by “labyrinth believers,” she was hesitant, hanging around the perimeter of the canvas path before delving in. Moments later, however, everything had changed.

“Once I walked, or even entered it, I realized this was totally different because there was such a sense of peace and quiet, of looking within, trying to see what is happening,” she recalled.

As she paced the path, she became aware of her own body. She was sensitive to everyone else on the journey. There was no “ah-ha” moment of clarity, she insisted, but instead a slow, steady feeling of peace. When she reached the center, she sat down, taking the whole experience in. She felt full.

She said she realized then what she was in the middle of was a metaphor for life.

“We’re all on the same journey, going somewhere,” she said. Some people will pass you, she continued, and others will shift out of your way. “And yet we’re all moving together.”

Upon leaving that day, Rutland’s relationship toward labyrinths was sealed. From then on, she would become involved in a “constant education” about the phenomena, visiting famous labyrinths around the world and bringing others into the fold. Several years ago, she would be a large force behind introducing a canvas labyrinth to the area. In 2003, she became a labyrinth facilitator, and since then she has introduced countless newbies to the path.

As she gets ready to guide a fresh batch of walkers through the labyrinth Monday night, it seems she couldn’t be happier. Everywhere she’s gone, from here to her summer home in Atlanta, people have been receptive to her message. Coming soon to the Snowmass Chapel will be an outdoor, permanent labyrinth, complete with snow-melting capabilities. To her, that’s just more proof that, when it comes to these walks, people are getting it.

Just don’t load up the labyrinth up with too much anticipation, she cautioned. To her, the beauty of the experience isn’t flashy, but subtle.

“It can help us to just stop and realize that our expectations, especially of this time of year, are just unrealistic,” she explained. “I do believe there is something there for every person.”

As in life, she urged, come with an open heart and go with the flow. See what happens. It might just be something good.

For more information about labyrinths around the world, visit

Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111

Post Independent Glenwood Springs CO Colorado

WHAT: A temporary labyrinth, open to the public

WHEN: Open for self-guided walks 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. today through Monday. A guided walk will be held at 5 p.m. on Monday.

WHERE: Schermer Hall at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass

QUICK FACTS: The labyrinth is modeled after the one in France’s Chartres Cathedral, installed sometime between 1194 and 1220. The rosette pattern is 42 feet in diameter, with a walking path that is 16 inches wide. It takes anywhere from half an hour to an hour or more to complete the 861 feet of the labyrinth.

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