Updated: Oct 10, 2018
By Lynn S. La Froth
As published in the Inter-County Leader, Burnett County Sentinel, and Spooner Advocate, October 2, 2002
A 9/11 ceremony marked the dedication of a Meditation Garden, the newest addition to The Sacred Grove complex in Scott Township. The Sacred Grove, 10 acres of what owners Lucy and Pat Basler call "very spiritual land," is located on Thompson Road off Burnett County Road A. The Meditation Garden completes the multipart area of The Sacred Grove that includes, at its entry, a Peace Pole, the symbol for world peace and for which the grove is dedicated. Other areas include the 60' diameter labyrinth, a hermitage, a circle gathering area, and walking trails.
The Baslers, long-time residents of Burnett County, purchased the land three years ago with the purpose of maintaining its sacredness. "We've lived here for over 30 years and this land—across the road from where we live—was always very spiritual, but wasn't available for purchase," said Lucy Basler.
Pat Basler's experience with Quakerism and "the silence" spawned his desire to create a space for himself and others to come and experience peace and silence in a natural setting of beauty. Another element in the creation of the Grove was when, in the late '80s, the Baslers were introduced to the idea of labyrinths. "I'd never seen one before but the instant I saw the picture in that newspaper article, it became a dream of mine to have one," said Lucy. "Lo and behold, in 1999, the owners were finally willing to sell the land. We bought it and immediately began looking for a large rock for the center of the labyrinth. Jim Moser came and leveled the area and dropped the rock in and we began constructing the paths of the labyrinth around that central stone." The Basler's labyrinth is lined with fieldstones and the walking path is sawdust in the traditional design of the old labyrinths.
Labyrinths are present throughout the world in a variety of mediums. According to the Baslers, labyrinths are at least 6,000 years old, originally found on the Isle of Crete, but may not have been used for the same purpose as today—for walking meditation and silent reflection. The most famous labyrinth lines the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France and it is said that during the time of the Crusades, because it was too dangerous for devotees to make their way to Jerusalem for the annual pilgrimage, walking the labyrinth was the symbolic equivalent.
"Walking the labyrinth is a meditative experience and can be used for slowing down your life, or for gaining clarity to help make right decisions. Some are calmed and some are energized. It's unique to each person. But it is a tool to help one delve deeper inside themselves," said Lucy.
In 1997, Pat and Lucy called together a group of friends and like-minded associates, which they called the Gathering, to talk generally about issues of peacemaking and other spiritual matters. When the labyrinth was finished in 1999, the Gathering began walking the labyrinth together instead of meditating for the first half hour of the evening. "A group walking the labyrinth forms a cohesive community and although you walk singly, you always feel the spiritual presence of those who've gone before or are with you, presently, on the path," she said.
It was half-way through the construction of the labyrinth when Pat decided a Hermitage needed to become part of the Sacred Grove. So, further up the hill a simple cottage was built and is used for silent retreats by one or two people. About a hundred yards south of the Hermitage is the Meditation Garden, dedicated this past 9/11 to creating peace and quiet within oneself. Pat said, "We can never have peace in the world without peace in our own hearts." A trail along the nearby ridge will take you to an area where two massive pines sit, around which are chairs for group or solitary meditation.
The Sacred Grove is located at 27802 Thompson Road—off County Road A between Webster and Spooner. All are welcome; there is no charge although people are welcomed to make donations for its upkeep. For more information on the Sacred Grove or for directions, call 715.866.7798.