Winter was wearing thin on us, and although it had not been a savage season in southwest Ohio, time was stretching long and thin while the city of Cincinnati marched along with the pandemic drum beat. After a tiresome election cycle and a disengaged holiday season, January brought an attempted coup and heavy gray clouds that barely allowed any sun to filter to the ground. Although January marks the two year anniversary that I left Northern California to relocate to Ohio, I still prefer to live every day as if I am travelling. The people, places, and experiences are temporary and are to be savored with the same appreciation as if I were trekking through Serbia with my backpack and gear. This perspective gives me patience through the hardship of my daily assignment, and fresh eyes to view the problems and solutions around me. I am currently staying here, but I am only passing through, as we are all only passing through, perhaps for three days, or maybe for 75 years.
Identifying stillness and silence has nurtured this connection with transiency. We are always shifting and adjusting to fill the spaces around and within us. When I am centered, I can feel the space within me, and have learned to accept the temporality of what feels more solid. Walking meditations in a labyrinth is one way to connect to stillness and silence.
Labyrinths have been around for over four thousand years, and labyrinthine symbols date back to the Neolithic age. Through shifting the mental constructs of linear time and space having origins only between two separate points, they aid in the traveler’s discovery of their true Self. They guide the seeker into a compression of time and space.
On one particularly bleak Sunday, I decided to venture into that sacred space of my center. Using the World-Wide Labyrinth Locator, I filtered the search function to find ten labyrinths within a 10 mile radius of my zip code. The World Labyrinth Locator is an online project of The Labyrinth Society. Launched in 2004, it is a database that contains over 6050 labyrinths across 85 countries. These are my three favorites in the city of Cincinnati.
Labyrinth at Smale Riverfront Park in Downtown
This outdoor labyrinth is a permanent feature of Smale Riverfront Park. It is located between the Roebling Bridge and the Black Brigade of Cincinnati Monument. The total distance from entrance to center and back is half a mile. When I began the journey, I was the only one walking. Within ten minutes, a young girl on a tricycle who was on the Ohio River Trail with her father saw me and wanted to explore as well. Although they didn’t seem to understand the purpose, they at least opened their perspective enough to wander into a circle that perhaps they had never before noticed.
Labyrinth at Unity of Garden Park
I traveled to a new area of the city to walk this labyrinth, located behind the Unity of Garden Park church. Designed to represent the mythic Phoenix who rises from its ashes to fly away, symbolizing healing and transformation, I felt an alignment of time and space while weaving through the pathways and visualized a peaceful transition from the chaos of 2020, and into a more stable 2021. The words, “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” mark the beginning and end, printed on a post in four languages.
Labyrinth at New Thought Unity Center
Located in the beautiful and historic Cincinnati neighborhood of Walnut Hills is the New Thought Unity Center with it’s outdoor meditation garden and labyrinth. The Cincinnati Magazine from October 15, 2020, gave the labyrinth a bit of publicity. In this online article, Larry Watson, the center’s head prayer chaplain explains the installation’s purpose of creating and releasing an intention, whether “a concern, belief, sadness, emotion, pain, anger, shame.” The process of following the path gives space to reflect on the intention before releasing it. Watson explains that, “working into the center, through the labyrinth, gives us time to be comfortable letting it go.”
More information on labyrinths: