Labyrinth is a great word. Spelling it on a Scrabble board scores 17 points, more if any of the tiles fall on double or triple spots. Using it in casual conversation puts you at the head of the class.
A labyrinth can be an intricate combination of paths or passages in which it is difficult to find one's way or reach the exit.
It also can be a series of paths bordered by high hedges, as in a park or garden, for the amusement of those who search for a way out.
For Jan Kluever, labyrinth is more than just a 17-point Scrabble word. It is her backyard pride and joy.
"Mine is not a maze," said Kluever. "It's more whimsical with a definite path in and the same path out. You cannot get lost."
Kluever's fascination with labyrinths began in March 2002 when she attended a labyrinth lecture. The 72-year-old had no idea what one was, but had read they could be a tool for healing and meditation.
"The workshop resonated with me and that's when I knew I had to build one," she said. "I started traveling and have walked labyrinths in Sedona, Ariz., and even the one at St. Andrew's Catholic Church in Boulder City."
When it came time to build the labyrinth, Kluever asked the teacher she met at the workshop to assist in the layout. They used dowses or diving rods to determine the best location on her half-acre site. Labyrinths can be all sizes and were originally built with river rocks. They are now constructed with a variety of designs and materials, including concrete. The best part is that there is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth.
"There are seven circuits or circles in a labyrinth with a definitive place to stand in the middle," said Kluever. "The beautiful part about my labyrinth is that after spending two months laying it out, and the day before I was to mark the seven circuits, there was a hard rain that created deep marks that I used in its final design. Then, the day after it was finally completed, it rained again and there was a double rainbow."
Kluever, originally from Ohio, has been religiously walking her labyrinth ever since. The walks last about 10 minutes.
"One's life is a sacred journey that is continuously expanding," she explained. "It's about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation and learning. A labyrinth is a path, and when I walk it each day, I walk it with something on my mind that I want to turn over or let go. I walk to the center, think about it, release it, and slowly walk back out. There are also days I walk it just for pleasure. One needs to understand that by being aware of the universe, one can find peace and contentment. The outdoors is God's cathedral and when I'm walking, I am one with myself in my own backyard.
"There is a myth that says labyrinths are forever. What we know for sure is that we don't know for sure where they came from or why they came to be. What I know is that we live in such a busy time and need to become aware of our many blessings, and that's why I walk the labyrinth ... to discover gifts and truths about myself. There is nothing more gratifying."