Nestled between two of Boston’s busiest shopping districts, passersby found reprieve Sunday night from the more materialistic aspects of the holiday season.
Aglow with luminary bags at each twist and turn, the labyrinth in the center of the Armenian Heritage Park in the Boston Greenway has become the place for Boston’s newest holiday tradition: an annual candlelit labyrinth peace walk, now in its third year.
“We meant it to be offered up as a place for people to relax and chill in this busy time of year,” said Beth Mace, president of the Labyrinth society of New England.
Amid the hustle and bustle of busy city life and the even more chaotic shopping season, the labyrinth walk is a welcome opportunity for reflection for the more than 100 who walked the path this year.
“People walk the labyrinth for meditative purposes, for calmness and for clarity,” said Susan Deranian, of the Friends of the Armenian Heritage Park and one of the walk’s organizers. “We thought it was a good time of year for that.”
Participants are invited to walk the winding labyrinth, a path that is meant to declutter the brain, Mace explained. As walkers reach the center, they have a moment to reflect and as they walk out of the labyrinth, they are meant to set intentions for a positive future.
The idea for the peace walk came three years ago from a Hawaiian professor who was looking for a new tradition as she pondered her upcoming trip to Boston to visit family over the holidays.
“I was looking for some kind of alternative celebration to what you usually see at the holidays,” Christine Osterwalder said.
As participants exited the labyrinth Sunday organizers invited them to make a wish. As people reflected on the turbulent year they were leaving behind, the purpose for the peace walk had never been more clear.
“I wrote a wish I think may be impossible,” Mennah Ghazarians of Lexington said. “I wished for a cure for hate.”
Ghazarians, an Armenian American, reflected on the instances of hate that have infiltrated American society in the wake of a harrowing election season and she worried about the fate of the thousands of refugees in Aleppo who are fighting for their lives and freedom in Syria, much as her ancestors did during the Armenian genocide in the the early 1900s.
Ghazarian’s wish and dozens of others, inscribed on colored ribbons, were tied onto the branches of sapling, where they will remain most of the year.
It’s these wishes that organizer Barbara Tellalian said help to bridge the gaps of the community.
“We’re building common ground. We’re building community,” she said.
Even though the park is built by the Armenain Heritage Society, it’s meant as a place for all people to come together, Don Tellalian, park designer, said.
“We wanted a device here that would engage people and we thought the labyrinth was a terrific way to do that. And, if you want to get philosophical, it represents the journey of life,” he said.