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Apr 18, 2017

Grace Houston Tree of Life Labyrinth Dedication and Blessing

Members of Grace, Houston, dreamed of expanding their contemplative ministries with a labyrinth, a walking meditation path. Several years ago, a planning team embarked on a journey to bring the labyrinth to their church, hoping to create a respite for busy Houstonians to find a quiet place to seek and listen to God. The team hired Reginald C. Adams, LLC, to assist in the design and implementation. After a citywide tour of Houston labyrinths, the team selected the Cretan-style labyrinth for its circular flow and gentle curves, reminding them of a tree with its trunk rooting deeply into the earth and its crown reaching high to the sky toward the sunlight.

“The original design was intended to be located on a portion of the property that was out in open space, filled with sunlight and in retrospect, little shade. As God would have it, our project was delayed,” said the Rev. Gena Davis, vicar at Grace. “As we drew closer to beginning again, our Head of School decided to relocate our toddler playground, and a beautiful space opened up for us that we had not considered. Formerly, it was a prayer garden that had been converted to a playground for our day school. As we walked under the canopy of two, majestic oak trees, we felt the powerful tree energy and realized that the Tree of Life Labyrinth belonged here. We all knew it was just perfect, and as always, everything is always in God’s time and in God’s perfect design.” 

Under the direction of Reginald Adams and Grace’s Jr. Warden, Bob Andrew, construction preparation began. Grace started an online GoFundMe campaign to raise funds from the wider labyrinth community. The Houston Community of the Labyrinth donated funds. Seed money was used from the Albert L. Ebaugh memorial fund, a noted psychiatrist in Houston who was a member of Grace before his death in 2014. Parishioners donated to support the project, and with anonymous and GoFundMe donors, Grace reached its goal of $28,400 on the dedication day. Commemorative bricks were sold for inspirational messages and in memory of loved ones. These bricks now line the garden pathways and lead to Albert’s memorial stone.

A labyrinth is an ancient pattern found in many cultures around the world, dating as far back as 5,000 years. In the middle ages, Christians walked the labyrinth as a symbolic pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Today, the labyrinth is a form of spiritual pilgrimage in which people enter from the world with their concerns and questions, walk quietly to the center where they integrate new insights and rest in God’s presence, and then walk out quietly to enter back into the world. It is a path of prayer and walking meditation leading one deeply into the heart of God, where people experience healing and self- knowledge, empowered to more fully engage in life’s journey with renewed healing, creativity and inspiration. 

The five-circuit Cretan-style labyrinth was constructed in October 2016 with over 15 tons of flagstone bricks and crushed granite, with the help of many volunteers from Grace, Scoutmaster Myron Cloyd and Boy Scout Troop 723, friends, neighborhood volunteers, and Reginald Adams and his team of many volunteers. New friendships flourished and workers from downtown Houston joined in, riding Metro 8 to Grace, while church volunteers provided labor, breakfast tacos, water, and other healthy foods. Two Grace members, Nancy Hannan and Gordon Lee, trained as master gardeners, lended their expertise to coordinate the landscaping around the prayer space, worship space, and memorial garden using native Texas landscaping to ensure a healthy, thriving and natural plant environment for walkers and those seeking peaceful respite. Outdoor lighting was enhanced along the church, and up-lighting into the oak trees was added for night labyrinth walks. Adjacent to the labyrinth and prayer garden space, the team created an outdoor worship space with circular benches to coordinate with the flow of the labyrinth design, including an outdoor rock altar weighing over 2,900 pounds. This space will be used for prayer and Holy Eucharist services. 

On April 2, 2017, the Grace community joined together to dedicate and bless the labyrinth, worship space, prayer garden, and Albert L. Ebaugh memorial stone. Dr. Helen Rose Ebaugh, along with family and friends, joined the Grace family and other donors to celebrate this momentous day. Helen Rose’s four grandchildren unveiled Albert’s memorial stone, Albert’s son James gave remembrances, and Helen Rose, Reginald Adams, and Rev. Gena Davis gave histories of the labyrinth vision, creation, and dreams for it being a place for all to come and experience the holy. Grace musicians and singers provided contemplative music led by Diane Davis Andrew, complete with violin and guitar, and Gary Davis sang a song he composed called, “Albert’s Garden.” With over 100 in attendance, the labyrinth was blessed for all to find a quiet place to come and listen to God as they walk and pray. 

The Rev. Dr. John K. Graham, President and CEO of the Institute of Spirituality and Health and assisting priest at Grace, felt such joy, adding, “God gave humanity a great gift by including the plant kingdom and great trees in creation. The Tree of Life labyrinth will remind everyone of God's gift to all." 

To experience the labyrinth, call the Church Office at 832.667.8601 to schedule your visit. Monthly full moon labyrinth walks will begin in April, as well as an interfaith walking meditation during Compassionate Houston Week 2017. The interfaith walking   meditation will be held on Wednesday, April 26 from 7-8:30 p.m. with faith leaders and members from Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hare Krishna and Christian faith communities.

To attend, please register online with Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston at https://www.imgh.org/event-calendar/tree-life-interfaith- walking-meditations/. For more information, contact: Phyllis Gingiss at

“Walking on the labyrinth with our neighbors in the spirit of peace and reverent listening to God and each other is at the heart of the contemplative life and is critically necessary for discovering ways to reflect the compassion of Christ that is so needed in our world,” said the Rev. Gena Davis. “Compassionate acts reflect the people of Houston, and compassion is at the heart of the Gospel message. All are invited to join in this walk, or to discover your own ways you can participate in bringing compassion to a deeper level in Houston and in our diocese.”

Grace is located at 4040 W. Bellfort, 77025 in central Southwest Houston.

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