Shuck and Jive

Saturday, October 11, 2008

We Dedicate Our Labyrinth Tomorrow

Greg Miller of the Elizabethton Star wrote a nice article about our labyrinth. We will dedicate it during Sunday worship.

Check out these photos of our labyrinth in the making!

Here is a brochure about the labyrinth in pdf.

We are on the Worldwide Labyrinth Locator.

First Presbyterian to dedicate labyrinth

Star Staff

First Presbyterian Church, 119 W. F St., Elizabethton, will dedicate their new labyrinth on Sunday, Oct. 12, shortly after noon, according to the Rev. John Shuck, pastor.

"The spiritual practice of walking labyrinths is thousands of years old," Shuck said. "We don't know where or when it began for certain. Labyrinths have been found in ancient cultures from Greece and Crete to Egypt, China, Peru, Ireland and Scandinavia. You can find them on the floors of the great medieval cathedrals."

Aubrie Abernethy provided "the vision, energy and direction" for First Presbyterian's labyrinth, Shuck said.

Abernethy says Annette Reynolds, the founder of Labyrinth Project of Alabama and international labyrinth speaker, "shared her journey with the labyrinth" during the Annual Church Retreat at the Roan Mountain Conference Center in July 2002. "She facilitated a day-long workshop about labyrinths and their use for healing and insight," Abernethy said. "She brought a full-sized canvas labyrinth." Many people "had profound experiences walking the labyrinth that day," Abernethy said.

In 2002, Abernethy says, "plans were discussed for our own outdoor permanent labyrinth. Preliminary drawings were made. The site was discussed.

"Then during 2003-2005 during the transition from John Martin's ministry to the arrival of John Shuck, focus shifted to the matters at hand of a pastoral search and congregational care."

In 2007, members expressed renewed interest in the labyrinth. "Session approved our moving forward," Abernethy said. "Frank Knisley took the design I had drawn on graph paper back in 2002 and put sacred geometry, engineering and his artistry together to produce a working blueprint."

During Labyrinth Stepping Stone workshops, "Toddlers (with the help of parents), youth and adults, made concrete stepping stones and included personal designs, children's names, religious symbols from various traditions, signs of healing, joy, and nature.

These workshops will be ongoing...the stones will continue to be the individual expressions of the labyrinth's walkers."

Abernethy says that in May 2007, "We blessed the space and 'broke ground' with sod removal and actual construction. The sod that was removed, was relocated to other areas of the lawn that needed care. The site was dowsed, the four directions located, measured for fully handicap accessibility."

Abernethy continued, "The next steps included applying numerous layers of granulated surface, re-leveling the surface, lining the paths and perimeter with rocks donated by the Rogers family, installing the stepping stones, planting solid monkey grass donated by friends, planting memorial gifts of variegated monkey grass to mark the four directions donated as a memorial to Sally Brown by the Brown/Mason family, planting hostas as a memorial gift to Helen Collins by Audrey and Kelly Collins, and installing a post and information box for walkers to use."

Shuck has enjoyed watching people use the labyrinth "for spiritual peace and healing. The labyrinth is for members of our congregation and for the larger community. We hope everyone will be blessed by it."

Shuck describes his labyrinth-walking experiences. "I have walked this labyrinth and others," he said. "It is prayer that engages the body and the senses. It may take time to appreciate it. First time walkers wonder if they are doing it right or if they are supposed to feel something or get something. I have gone through that. Now, I don't worry about it. I just do it."

Shuck continues, "I often begin with something on my mind. I bring it to consciousness. Then as I walk to the center and back out again, I find that I am more at peace with myself and with what I have to face. There is nothing magical or superstitious about it. It is a physical path of winding to the center and back again that is a symbol for our spiritual path."

Shuck says he personally understands Christ as the center. "At times, our life journey feels like it takes us away from Christ," he said. "But Christ is always at the center. The path leads us to Him. We need simply to trust and walk toward Him. Christ at the center also gives us the strength and faith to go back and face our lives with peace and trust."

Shuck says the labyrinth "is a meditative practice to help clear the mind. There is no right or wrong way to walk the labyrinth. The best advice I can give is to simply do it without concern if you are doing it 'right.'"

The labyrinth, Shuck says, is 44 feet in diameter and is wheelchair accessible. Some of the materials were donated, and the dirt and the stone were purchased. Shuck estimates the cost at about $1,500.

The church is listed on the worldwide labyrinth locator, For more information, call 543-7737.


  1. That's pretty cool, John! I've heard that this is a great meditative practice.

  2. It really is great and a gift to the larger community.

  3. I recall when you wrote about this earlier. I do so love labyrinths.

    Blessings upon this holy ground and those who will trod upon it.