Deborah J. Haynes

Commemorating the Jamestown Flood, 1 Year Later

The formal one-year flood anniversary is now over. And what a few days it has been. We heard, also formally, that 17 inches of rain fell in Jamestown in September 2013. This was an even more dramatic rainfall amount than I thought, more than a year's worth of rain in 5 days.

My activity during these weeks and days centered around planning and hanging an art exhibition by local artists, held at our Town Hall; preparing a stone bench with a beautiful marble slab and installing that in the cemetery for Joey Howlett, who died in the flood; and constructing and dedicating a new labyrinth in Elysian Park at the end of our street. I will have more to say about each of these events later. Right now, I want to describe the construction and dedication of the new 40-foot wide labyrinth.

Townsfolk began gathering stones on Thursday September 11th -- many from the pile in front of David’s and my house -- and laying out the design, which is like the one at Chartres Cathedral near Paris and Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. We began to place the rocks on Friday and finished the labyrinth on Saturday the 13th.


Midday on Saturday, I led a short dedication ceremony, attended by about 40 people. I wrote this with material scavenged from the internet, plus my own sense of what the ritual should be.

Welcome to all! Please find  a place to stand around the circumference of the labyrinth.

General Thanks: to the Anniversary Planning Committee for embracing the idea of creating a ritual around the 1-year anniversary of the flood; to Julie Constantine for giving us the idea of a labyrinth; to Town leadership for supporting placement of the labyrinth in Elysian Park; to Matt Kolhass and Julie for carrying forward the project of gathering so many rocks with many others; to all who gathered yesterday to plan, carry, and place the stones; and to all of you for gathering for this dedication.

What is a labyrinth? Put simply, a labyrinth is a path for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation. Having originated in ancient Greece and Egypt, labyrinths exist in several major types, and in many cultures across time. The symbol has appeared in various forms--in petroglyphs, ceramics, pavement, mazes of vegetation, and basketry—and throughout much of the world, from Native north and south America to Australia, Java, India, Nepal, and Europe.

Our labyrinth is based on a classic Christian design, the most famous example being at Chartres Cathedral, about 50 miles SW of Paris.

I’d like to invite you to join in a shared reading by TS Eliot, lines from the Four Quartets, written between 1936 and 1942:

In my beginning is my end . . . . In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
       You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstacy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
       You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
       You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
       You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not . . . .

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Visualization (a form of receiving and sending energy)

Close your eyes and imagine a globe that pinpoints the location of every labyrinth all over the world. Acknowledge that each of these labyrinths possesses an abundance of energy to effect healing and growth. Now imagine that this abundant energy is being freely offered by each of these labyrinths to our labyrinth in the form of rainbows of energy coming to the center of this labyrinth and going into the earth right here. That rainbow of colored energies fully activates the healing and growth potential of our labyrinth for all those who will walk it from this point forward. Then, imagine that you are sharing some of this rainbow of activated labyrinth energy by sending it back to all of the labyrinths around the world, further activating their ability to facilitate healing and growth among their walkers.

(At this point I asked if anyone wished to speak.)

Blessing (adapted from a ceremony led by Karen Clute, Dayton, OH)

Leader: Our labyrinth is a winding path that leads to a central space and then out again by the same path.

Community: Bless this labyrinth and all who walk it.

Leader:  Our labyrinth is a mirror for our own lives and metaphor for our spiritual journeys.

Community: Bless this labyrinth and all who walk it.

Leader:  Our labyrinth is circle and a spiral, each a powerful and ancient symbol of unity, wholeness, and transformation.

Community: Bless this labyrinth and all who walk it.

Leader: Our labyrinth is a tool for inner growth and transformation of heart and mind, body and spirit.

Community: Bless this labyrinth and all who walk it.

Leader: Our labyrinth is a discipline of setting one foot in front of the other and following a path.

Community: Bless this labyrinth and all who walk it.

Leader: Our labyrinth calls forth our intuitive symbolic mind and creative meandering spirit.

Community: Bless this labyrinth and all who walk it.

Leader: Our labyrinth is a deeply healing container where we can touch our joys and sorrows.

Community: Bless this labyrinth and all who walk it.

This ends the dedication of our labyrinth.

After that, many people walked the labyrinth, which takes about 15-20 minutes.


Later we held a potluck (town members only) around the band shell to the west of the labyrinth. David and I left as a square dance was beginning. Working in Jamestown each day last week, we decided to come back to Longmont and rest. I have slept well the last few nights, body very tired. I think I personally lifted and/or rolled at least 1000 pounds of stone. What satisfaction and gratitude I feel for our many friends in town, and for the beloved friends and family who were not present, but who have so consistently supported the journey of this past year.

Photo credits, from the top: Julie Constantine, Laurel Wanrow, Deborah J. Haynes, Nancy Edelstein, Laurel Wanrow

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