A meandering path in local healing garden is bringing to residents of Monticello a special place to meditate, relax, or simply reflect on the world of today’s challenges.

CentraCare-Monticello is now home to a labyrinth, which is appropriately located in the medical center’s healing garden.

Patients, staff, and community members have been finding peace of mind at the labyrinth since being completed in June. The labyrinth was officially dedicated on Tuesday, Sept. 10.

The labyrinth, located on River Street behind the Stellis Health and Monticello Cancer Center facilities, is a place for walking meditation, says Rev. Jocelyn Bakkemo, the spiritual health program coordinator for CentraCare-Monticello.

“It’s a place to quiet the mind and relieve stress,” Bakkemo said. The labyrinth is also a good prayer tool, she said.

A multi-course path with a well-defined pathway that winds its way to the center, CentraCare’s labyrinth follows a “tree of life” theme.

“We chose this because you can’t get lost in it,” Bakkemo said. “And it’s vey accessible.”

Joni Pawelk, marketing and communications manager for CentraCare-Monticello, said the labyrinth is a place for users to embrace health and well-being.

People can come to the labyrinth for their physical health, or they can come to the labyrinth for their spiritual health, Pawelk said.

The beauty of the healing garden labyrinth is that there are two paths with different time commitments that cater to both people short of time and those who want a deeper spiritual experience.

Entering the labyrinth and turning left takes you on a short path right to the center finishing point, Bakkemo said. Entering the labyrinth and turning right takes a longer period of time and is ideal for meditation and introspective thinking, she said.

Bakkemo says that visiting a labyrinth is very individual. People who follow one of the two paths all have different experiences. There are no rights or wrongs, she said.

Reaching the center of the labyrinth might be as meaningful as walking the labyrinth’s paths, Bakkemo said.

“When reaching the center, many people stop to pause and reflect,” she said.

Some might sit down and reflect while allowing one’s self to become what Bakkemo refers to as “more open.”

While a person’s experience might be individual and maybe even private, time spent at the labyrinth might not be.

“More than one person might be on the labyrinth at one time,” Bakkemo said.

“People’s paces are different, so you just pass someone and go about on your journey,” she said.

A labyrinth might be new to Monticello, but they are not new to the world, or even our civilization.

They have been around more than 5,000 years, Bakkemo said. 

Their popularity took off in 13th century Italy and France.

“They are cross-cultural and non-denominational,” Bakkemo said of labyrinths.

However, there is one thing that a labyrinth isn’t. They should not be confused with being a maze.

A maze is a place where you get lost. A labyrinth, on the other hand, is a place where your inner well-being is found.

“We are so fortunate and grateful to have a labyrinth in Monticello,” Bakkemo said.

The labyrinth in the CentraCare-Monticello healing garden was made possible through generous donations to the CentraCare-Monticello Foundation.

Reach Jeff Hage at jeff.hage@ecm-inc.com


Jeff Hage is the managing editor of the Monticello Times. He majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

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