I was Googling the other day, looking for information on labyrinth gardens and I was surprised to find one practically in my backyard. I took the short drive to visit The Common Ground, a community garden in Sayville, NY. Its philosophy is simple: “A place where getting to know your neighbor is as easy as a walk in the park.”
Through the efforts of volunteers, grants, and donations, the park is a social-cultural haven for the local community. Nestled in a quiet residential neighborhood, the garden was born in the wake of September 11, 2001, when local residents wanted
to create something positive for the larger community. As more and more people and local organizations became involved, and with the help of fundraising, the little-used Rotary Park became a centerpiece for all. Today, the garden welcomes visitors to enjoy yoga, concerts, and movies.
If the pavilion in the center of the park is its crown, then the Peace Garden Labyrinth is the jewel. The brainchild of Marianne Fulfaro, who designed, laid out, and funded the project in memory of her parents, the labyrinth is constructed of paving stones and red gravel. To reach it, visitors walk down a paver path that is lined with shrubs
and flowering perrenials, all planted by volunteers under the guidance of local master gardener Nancy Angermaier. At the labyrinth’s start is a plaque with instructions on how to walk the circuitous path.
With a history dating back thousands of years, the labyrinth is symbolic of life’s journey. While a maze has dead ends, the labyrinth offers the traveler a neverending path. As the journey begins, the walker is faced with twists and turns, each one bringing the individual closer to the center and then sending them further away.
Ultimately, the center is reached. The goal is that through a meditative walk, a visitor will feel more calm and centered, maybe even walking away with a solution to something that has weighed heavily upon his or her mind.
The Common Ground Park and Peace Labyrinth is a true testament of what a community park can and should be. For more information, please visit their website. To find a labyrinth garden in your area, check out World-Wide Labyrinth Locator. Special thanks to Suzanne Robilotta, this year’s Common Ground president, for helping me to fill in the gaps.