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Meditation Garden now open to public in Scott Township

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.

 

 

Sacred Grove — a retreat

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 seewhat it was."
Goodmove 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 sacredceremoniesltd@gmail.com or go to www.sacredceremoniesltd.org.

 Courtesy of the Burnett County Sentinel