By TODD BECKMANN
Sentinel News Editor
A&H—You'd never know it's there if you weren't looking for it.
In a sense, that's a perfect metaphor for the Sacred Grove.
"However people use it is how they use it," caretaker Lucy Basler said simply. "It's a spiritual place — we're not about specific denominations."
Tucked away on Thompson Road off Co. Road A near A&H, Lucy had a ready example of how people find out about the place.
"I was at the labyrinth one day and this woman rode her bike right up there," she began. "The woman said for years she had been biking back and forth on the road, had seen the sign and just decided to come in once and see what it was." Good move on her part. "She said it had been thrilling and she has since invited her family to see and experience the site.
The Baslers bought the 10-acre parcel in 1999, but their interest in the property goes back more than 40 years. "We had known about the property and how special it was since 1971 when we bought a resort across the road on North Sand Lake," Lucy explained. "The kids used to come across the road to play and that's how I found out about it." She said from the beginning she knew it was a special piece of land. "People can feel a peacefulness here," she pointed out.
One of the highlights of the Sacred Grove is the labyrinth. "We built that right after we bought the place," she noted. The common misconception is that the labyrinth is a maze.
"Mazes are built to lose yourself," Lucy explained. "A labyrinth is built to find yourself — it's a spiritual thing." The labyrinth at Sacred Grove is about 60-feet in diameter.
Basler set the stage for a typical use of the labyrinth. "Think of a problem you'd like a solution to, stand at the entrance and then walk the paths of the labyrinth," she described.
Even if you can't come up with a problem which needs a solution, Lucy said to just be open to whatever happens.
"That's your right brain that creates that message — the creative part of the mind," she explained. "The left part of the brain is busy keeping you on track with guiding you through the labyrinth." She said this leaves the right brain free to come up with some answers.
The Baslers introduced a guestbook to Sacred Grove, near the labyrinth, back in 2002 to keep some sort of record of how much the place was used. "We've had visitors from 27 states and 17 foreign countries,' she noted. Pretty good attendance for a place which doesn't advertise. Basler said it's all word-of-mouth.
Another highlight is the hermitage, called Athani House II, a quaint four-season shelter on the property. Athani is the Indian word for a five-foot high granite bridge positioned alongside roadways for villagers to rest the loads they were carrying on their heads. "It's a place to unburden yourself," Basler said simply. "My husband wanted a hermitage for himself."
She said everything built on the 10-acres, including the hermitage, was built for themselves — they just ended up sharing it. "People just loved it, they were eating it up — they even started donating stuff toward it," she exclaimed. A hand-crafted sign inside the hermitage says it all: "No stress-passing."
The Baslers don't charge for the use of the hermitage but do accept donations.
Of course you can't have a cabin in the woods without an outhouse, and the one at Sacred Grove is the deluxe model — skylight, window, porch, sink, everything but running water and they come close to that. "It's quite fancy," Basler laughingly admitted.
There's also the foundation of a home and a barn built by Fred Hoerning in the early 1900s.
"We have a bonfire inside the barn foundation every December 21 to recognize the winter solstice," Basler continued.
Another feature is the meditation garden.
"It's supposed to represent a Zen garden, only with sawdust instead of sand," she said with a laugh. "Someone even donated a Buddah statue."
Near the Gathering Place, an open area for weddings or other gatherings, there are Tiebetan prayer flags hanging between the trees. "The idea is that when the wind blows, these prayers of peace go around the world," she explained.
The Sacred Grove has been incorporated so it can exist in perpetuity. The Sacred Grove is located 1/2 mile South of "A" on Thompson Road (14 miles east of Webster) on the left. Contact Lucy or Pat Basler with any questions by calling 715-866-7798, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.sacredceremoniesltd.org.
Courtesy of the Burnett County Sentinel