A small, yet energetic group of community members on Aug. 18 participated in what has become an annual Elk Grove tradition: walking around the labyrinth at Morse Community Park every August.

During this mild temperature evening, three local residents and two organizers from this St. Mary’s Episcopal Church-sponsored event walked round and round a brick pathway, which leads to and from its center. Unlike a maze with alternative pathways, a labyrinth has a single pathway to reach destinations.

Karen Lawler, a spokesperson for the walk, said that the event extends well beyond engaging in some exercise.

“Every August, we do (the walk) in conjunction with Diversity Awareness Month – the events leading up to the Multicultural Festival,” she said. “It’s really an opportunity for people to come out and come together and try to do some reflection on the things that bring us together.

“In this case, we were invited to consider what burdens we hold, what we’re holding onto that might contribute to a division or a lack of peace between us.”

Prior to the walk, the Rev. Anne Largent Smith, St. Mary’s priest-in-charge, invited participants to let go of such burdens.

The walk, which can be taken anytime in this public setting, presents a way for community members to gain a better understanding of this amenity, and walk with specific intentions.

Labyrinths, which can be traced to ancient Greece and Catholic cathedrals of medieval times, allow opportunities for participants to engage in a peaceful and fulfilling experience.

Lawler, a church deacon who added to the event as a percussionist playing to recorded music, explained why the church presents the labyrinth as part of Diversity Awareness Month.

“We wanted to do this as part of Diversity Awareness Month, because this is a practice that everyone can engage in together,” she said. “We all are on this journey though life together in this community.

“It’s something that can bring people together. It allows us a way to pray for greater peace and greater compassion and greater understanding between all the various folks who are represented in our community.

“It allows us to go literally on a journey together.”

Because the labyrinth is a place of meditations, participants emerged from the place with various thoughts on life.

Lawler noted that she thought about the concept of trying to make a difference in the world.

“Walking in, I was just thinking about how easy it is to feel like the things that I do don’t make a difference, and kind of the fear that when I try to do something, it doesn’t wind up mattering,” she said. “And walking out, I was thinking about hope, and the hope of the children around us and the hope that we have in being together and trying to make change.”

Walk participant Susi Jacobo-Vice mentioned that the walk made her think of her views on immigration in America.

“I was thinking about the immigration stuff that’s going on right now, and coming from a family that immigrated here, I was thinking about the fact that I wish people would realize that not everybody that comes to this country from another country is a bad person,” she said. “I think that’s a lot of what you can hear in the media.”

Jacobi-Vice’s wife, Julie Vice, mentioned that she enjoys walking the labyrinth with others for a common purpose.

“I feel like there’s so much going on in the world that’s so negative, being able to get together with folks who have a mission of peace and have a mission of purpose, (and) who want to get together is really important,” she said.

Local community activist Lynn Wheat, who also walked the labyrinth, praised the former Multicultural Committee – now Diversity and Inclusion Commission – for making the walk a part of this month’s Diversity Awareness Month.

“What I enjoy is that the Multicultural Committee got all this together,” she said. “This is an opportunity to walk in peace and to recognize what a diverse community that we are. We still have some things to overcome, but (there is) growth that we’ve had along the way.”XX