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Peterborough Labyrinth draws contemplative crowd on New Year's Eve and Day

By Meghan Pierce
Union Leader Correspondent

January 01. 2013 3:35AM
Visitors of the Peterborough Labyrinth meditate in the center on New Year's Eve. (Meghan Pierce/Union Leader Correspondent)

The Peterborough Labyrinth is open to visitors New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. (Meghan Pierce)
PETERBOROUGH - Instead of ringing the New Year's in with a bang, for many in the Monadnock region it's a time to look inward and reflect.

When asked why she brought her family to walk the Peterborough Labyrinth at the Town House New Year's Eve, Heather Stockwell of Dublin used words like 'refreshing, rebirth' and a 'new start' for the meditative exercise.

'Just thought it would be a good-feeling activity,' Stockwell said, who came to walk the labyrinth with her husband Dan and 11-year-old son Woody.

She had walked the Labyrinth years ago and wanted to return this year, she said. 'I just think we needed something, something inspirational for the New Year and it seemed to fit the bill.'

Before entering the upper hall where the Notre Dame de Chartres Cathedral labyrinth in Chartres, France, had been carefully replicated on the wood floor by volunteers with black tape that morning, Stockwell said she would think about the New Year, and letting go.

'Think of things and people you need to let go of,' she said.

The path of the labyrinth has no tricks for the travelers, no walls or dead ends, just a continuous path that spirals into and then out of the center.

The use of labyrinths for an opportunity for reflection and deep thought are found in the Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim religions and in ancient, Greek, Roman and South American cultures as well as the Hopi and Navaho Native American cultures.

New Year's Eve in the late afternoon about 20 people walked the labyrinth, slowly, heads down, watching the path.

As visitors completed the walk, others were just beginning it.

Organizers of the event suggest participants meditate on a thought or question, prayer or repeat a mantra while walking.

When the walkers come to the center of the labyrinth they stop and stand for a moment or several minutes before continuing on their journey.

One woman leaving with a peaceful, serene look on her face said she didn't want to talk about her inner journey through the labyrinth.

First time visitor Peterborough farmer Dan Holmes said he has wanted to walk the labyrinth in the past, but with it only being up two days each year, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, he hasn't found the time before.

While he too wanted to keep the experience of the walk to himself, he said. 'I feel better having done it. It's given me a more positive outlook.'

The Peterborough Labyrinth is open to visitors each New Year's Eve till 9 p.m. and then on New Year's Day from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. After a closing ceremony the black tape is stripped away and the labyrinth disappears for another year.

The labyrinth is sponsored by the Mariposa Museum each year and run by volunteers. The labyrinth is free, but donations are accepted on behalf of the Monadnock Area Food Bank.

A pianist plays softly for visitors of the Peterborough Labyrinth in the upper hall of the Peterborough Town House Monday afternoon. (Meghan Pierce)

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