The First Presbyterian Church of Chili values the partnerships we have created over the years with the Boy Scout Troops who meet in our church building. Our most recent partnership project has been the creation of a Labyrinth Trail with Ian Ruhland, an Eagle Scout candidate. The church owns a 7 acre plot of land at 3551 Chili Ave (on the south side of Chili Ave., southeast of Chestnut Ridge). When the church began having conversations about what to do with land that would be of benefit for the community, the idea of a labyrinth trail rose to the top of the list. Tim Engelbrecht, a member of the church and Scoutmaster for Troop 275 took this idea and created a plan. After presenting the idea to Ian, he decided to take this on as his Eagle Project.
When our pastor, Brandi Wooten came to our church 13 years ago, she talked about Labyrinths and her interest in them as meditation tools. Labyrinths are intentionally not mazes. They are a continuous path which weaves back and forth in a pattern, moving ever closer to the center of the circle. This is intended to represent our spiritual journeys in that our journey has many twists and turns, the path is not always straight forward, but all our experiences can move us toward God (the center).
Beginning last spring, Ian and Tim, along with the support of Troop 275, friends and family, found a 160 foot radius of land that would work for a labyrinth project. They decided to create 5 concentric rings that were separate from each other and split the circle into 4 quadrants. They worked their way out from the center to complete all 5, used paces to measure and spray painted the general path on trees (trying to follow deer paths). To create the map for the completed project, Tim used the “Map My Hike” app and then pulled it up in a Google Maps satellite view. Starting at the actual beginning of the labyrinth, not the road, gave them the mileage of the labyrinth itself – 1 mile. The scouts cut all the brush using lopers, chainsaws, and bow saws. Tim used a mulcher to grind up a portion of the cut brush, and the Town of Chili delivered two dump truck loads of town mulch, which they spread on the trail. After the trail system was done, Ian needed to complete requirements for his Geocaching Merit Badge. So, he decided to use the property to place a geocache and continues to maintain it. Since being placed, the geocache has been found and used several times.
Plans for the Labyrinth Trail continue, as beginning this spring, another Boy Scout, Michael DeBona, will start his Eagle Scout Project of making benches which will be placed along the trail. The church also has plans to make a sign for the entrance to the trail, create a small parking lot for ease of access, and place bird houses, painted rocks and other meditative items along the way. While we continue to enhance the trail, anyone is currently welcome to take advantage of walking the path. We hope people from the Greater Chili Community will enjoy this journey in nature through the Labyrinth.