Crossroads Hospice Labyrinth Healing Garden


Crossroads Hospice Healing Garden Port Moody

Although walking round in circles is usually seen as a sign of being lost, here in Port Moody we have a different reason for circumambulation.

To find it, cut across Pioneer Park between the library and Newport Village and into a tiny oasis of greenery next to busy Ioco Road. On the gate posts to the park there’s a plaque announcing that you’re in Port Moody’s portion of the Trans Canada Trail. Slow down long enough to look from the path and you’ll easily spot the wooden arbor gateway into the Crossroads Hospice Labyrinth Healing Garden. Why not slow down even more and take a circular stroll around the basalt paths to the seating right in the middle?

The stone paths of the labyrinth are surrounded by low-growing perennial plants, just the right height to mark out the route but not too high if you have to step over them for a quick exit. There are wooden benches around the outer paths of the labyrinth, backed by trellis to give a degree of shelter. In the centre, another wooden bench faces the entrance to the garden. With a little practice it’s possible to block out the noise of traffic and concentrate on feeling serene.

For over 25 years Crossroads Hospice has been providing end-of-life support to patients and their families in our community. The healing labyrinth was completed in 2009, and opened in the middle of 2010 once the plants had established. It was built to enhance programs and designed to complement the rooftop gardens already in use by hospice residents. Kelly Parry, who is Communications Officer for the society, says that the hospice uses it as a tool of respite for residents and families, so they can get away and connect to nature for a while. It’s also available for use by staff and volunteers for similar reasons, in addition to being the meeting place for bereavement walking groups.

The labyrinth was also on the route for the RBC Paralympic Torch Relay back in 2010. Kelly notes one special moment when one hospice resident who followed the preparation for the garden was also there when Paralympian and torch bearer Andreas Holmes carried the flame en route for Vancouver.

“We got some great photos for her and her family to remember,” says Kelly. “It was an honour to have her there.”

Our local labyrinth was also built to benefit the neighbouring community. Kelly reports that she’s heard of other groups, mainly mental health organizations, as well as individuals using the garden for walking meditations. She and other staff have even seen anxious dogs entering the pathway and coming out nicely chilled out. Feedback suggests that the winding path settles people’s minds and places them in calmer mood. Others report that, once they enter, they no longer hear the heavy traffic around and can focus themselves.

Labyrinths have a long history. Many people know the story of the Minotaur, half man and half ox, roaming wild in the tunnels built to contain him beneath the palaces at Knossos on Crete until he was slain by Greek hero, Theseus. Others will know of the great maze at Hampton Court Palace in England or the modern day pilgrims praying their way around the labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral. While mazes with their branching paths and puzzling twists are used solely for leisure, the single path to the centre of a labyrinth is designed primarily for reflection, as a walking meditation.

Once completed, the Crossroads Hospice labyrinth joined a global network of over 3000 in use today for leisure and therapy, as points of curiosity and for healing worldwide. The advice on the hospice website is to take a deep breath as you pause before entering the garden, and to concentrate on your path around the labyrinth. At points in your journey, check out the granite stones engraved with messages of inspiration and reflection either side of the path. Take a moment to find the peace and serenity at the centre of the labyrinth then retrace your steps once ready to leave.

It’s still worth visiting the park and the labyrinth even if you have a kid or two in tow. Although the pausing for reflection thing might not happen as you try to control the jumping over the low hedges, the stone markers are interesting conversation pieces and make good al fresco reading practice. The shrubs are just starting to burst into bud with the warmer weather, turning the visit into a mini nature walk. And with the recent and ongoing parks maintenance, the area is an inviting open space with just enough sun and shade to make visiting at any season a pleasure. It makes a great side trip destination from the Farmer’s Markets held at the Rec Centre, and Pioneer Park itself is a good site for an impromptu picnic.

Why not have a slowest walk challenge as you stroll towards the centre of the labyrinth?

Or … is that just wishful thinking?

Although it’s not on the official hospice events calendar, volunteers have taken part in the annual walk for World Labyrinth Day in the past. This year’s event takes place at 1pm on Saturday, May 3rd if you’d like to plan your walk.

Crossroads Hospice Labyrinth Healing Garden

Crossroads Hospice Labyrinth Healing Garden

Crossroads Hospice Labyrinth Healing Garden

Crossroads Hospice Labyrinth Healing Garden

Crossroads Hospice Labyrinth Healing Garden

Crossroads Hospice Labyrinth Healing Garden

Crossroads Hospice Labyrinth Healing Garden

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