By ALISSA SCOTT
Recorder News Staff
Beth Spraggs and her family helped lay river stones in the field in front of City Hall Saturday morning, to complete a labyrinth that she believes will bring peace and healing to Amsterdam.
“Oh, anyone can use a little bit of that,” Spraggs, an Amsterdam resident, said. “It’s really a meditation tool. I feel it’s a gift that we give to ourselves just to give ourselves some peace and quiet for 10 minutes or so to walk the labyrinth.”
The labyrinth, which is 56 feet across, is composed of rocks donated by members of the community. They are expecting a rock delivery from a quarry within the next week to finish the classic seven circuit design.
Once complete, the community will be welcome to visit the labyrinth and walk through its course. They have constructed the path wide enough so that it will also be wheelchair accessible.
Jeremy Spraggs, Beth’s husband, said he approximates the path will take a walker around 15 to 20 minutes to complete, but Beth said it’s not imperative that visitors walk through.
“You can do whatever you want,” Beth Spraggs said. “If you set kids loose, they probably will skip or run and that’s fine. At our house, it’s two-thirds the size of this and it takes about 10 minutes to walk at a fairly slow pace and ours is a fifth of a mile when you walk in and back out.”
Jeremy Spraggs said he estimates the course at City Hall is around one-quarter of a mile through the course.
The Spraggs’ constructed a labyrinth at their home two years ago and Jeremy Spraggs said people are just drawn to it.
“My wife said, ‘If you build it, they will come,’” Jeremy Spraggs said. “And it’s really true. People love it.”
Beth Spraggs said people enjoy labyrinths for all different reasons and visitors are encouraged to experience it anyway they wish.
“For me, sometimes it’s just about getting outside and enjoying nature,” Spraggs said. “Sometimes I think. It can be a very spiritual tool, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s good for exercise. It can be whatever you want it to be.”
Once the visitor reaches the center of the circle, they can rest and meditate or continue on the path. Beth Spraggs said they may include a drumming circle in the center, or maybe a bench. Beth Spraggs said it’s not a maze, “you don’t get lost.”
Jeremy Spraggs said once time has taken its toll on the stones, the beaten path will allow the stones to sit higher, outlining the course, “standing proud.” The labyrinth, he said, is a metaphor for life.
“Sometimes you’re walking alongside somebody,” Jeremy Spraggs said. “Sometimes you’re opposite. Sometimes you follow the path and you think you’re just about finished and then you realize you’re not quite there yet.”
The couple said they have a friend who was having trouble letting go of the past and Jeremy Spraggs suggested they tour the labyrinth backward.
“That person found that it’s hard when you’re walking backward,” Beth Spraggs said.
“It’s unnatural,” Jeremy Spraggs added.
“If you’re always looking behind you, looking into the past, how can you move forward?” Beth Spraggs asked. “I thought that was a pretty brilliant exercise.”
“It felt uncomfortable,” Jeremy Spraggs said,” but sometimes people have to do something like that and it can help make a change in their life.”
Gina Mintzer, the organizer of the project, said she has been wanting to have a stone labyrinth in Amsterdam for a while. To add to the experience, she said they will be planting thyme around the rocks so that when people walk through the labyrinth, it will also smell appealing.
The team is accepting donations of stones at least six inches in one dimension. They can be designed in any fashion, but Mintzer suggested quotes, memorials, years or the artist’s name. They should be covered in shellac to withstand weathering.
Emily Spraggs, Beth and Jeremy’s 17-year-old daughter, also helped to lay out the stones that people collected from the river. She decorated some that are now in the labyrinth and she said she encourages others to personalize their own.
“The kids that painted these, they have a sense of ownership for them,” Emily Spraggs said.
They’re also asking for divisions of residents’ own perennials from their yards. They will be planted alongside a wall near the labyrinth. More information will be provided when details are sorted.