GREENFIELD — Construction of the community labyrinth at Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew on Federal and Church streets will begin Thursday at 8 a.m.
Organizers said they expect construction will be completed by 4 p.m. that day, and hope that at least some of them will be able to take the first walk through.
The Community Labyrinth Coalition has spent the past two years planning the labyrinth, working with experts across the country.
A labyrinth is a one-course path — one way in and one way out — with no decisions to be made, unlike a maze that is a puzzle intended to amuse and deceive. A labyrinth is a geometric pattern that has a well-defined pathway that winds its way to the center.
Labyrinths have a history that goes back more than 3,000 years to ancient Greece, and it encourages contemplation, much like yoga or walking meditation, which the coalition said it hopes will happen for those who walk it.
Lisa Moriarty, a labyrinth professional whose organization Paths of Peace has installed dozens of labyrinths all over the country, laid it out on Wednesday and will direct volunteers in the construction on Thursday.
“We’ll have volunteers coming throughout the day — working different shifts,” organizer Maggie Sweeney said.
Organizer Elise Schlaikjer built a labyrinth in her back yard, and has supplied a portable one to the church for monthly walks for the last couple of years.
“I’m a big believer in labyrinths,” Schlaikjer said. “They’re so calming and spiritual. I’ll be there Thursday.”
Schlaikjer said the entire community will be welcome to walk the labyrinth at any time of day.
“It’s a way to connect with the earth, the sky, other people,” she said. “I fell in love with labyrinths 20 years ago, so I picked up stones wherever I could, built one, and I walked it daily, even in the snow.”
She said there is no wrong way to walk a labyrinth. No matter which way you go, you end up in the center, where you are supposed to. She said you can move through a labyrinth slowly or quickly — just be polite to others.
“Walking one, you become much more aware of your steps,” Sweeney said. “It forces you to slow down and be present.”
Volunteers should bring a shovel or trowel, and gloves, and should dress appropriately (for comfort). Coffee will be available in the morning, and lunch will be served midday.
For more information or to volunteer, call 413-773-3925 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.