The Kennebunkport Conservation Trust is building a handicap-accessible labyrinth, located near its headquarters on Gravelly Road in Kennebunkport. Juliet Altham, one of the volunteers on the project, said that many people find completing a labyrinth to be a spiritual experience. CATHERINE BART/Kennebunk Post

KENNEBUNKPORT — Labyrinths have been a part of history since the Bronze Age, and Kennebunkport will soon be included in that once the conservation trust’s fully accessible community labyrinth is complete.

Community members are invited to participate in the labyrinth’s creation. On Sept. 22, the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust will be hosting an event at Emmons Preserve on Gravelly Brook Road, starting at noon.
There will be a ceremony, a potluck and live performances from local bands and musicians, said Juliet Altham, a volunteer at KCT. Guests are invited to bring dishes and donate a stone in honor of a loved one, which will be added to the labyrinth.
“I say in honor and not in memory because the person can still be living,” Altham said.
Stones must be 12 inches across and between 12 and 24 inches high. Donors are asked to include a minimum amount of $35 with their stone, said Altham.
“But if that’s a hardship for someone, we’ll take it,” Altham added. “It’s a gift.”
Currently, KCT does not have any handicap accessible trails, but the labyrinth is meant to be for everyone — a truly inclusive experience.
The project is expected to be completed in the spring, Altham said, but the path and shape of the labyrinth should be ready by the end of the fall.
While some may confuse a labyrinth for a maze, the biggest difference is that labyrinths only have one path, so no one can get lost, Altham said.
Labyrinths have a bit of a mysterious past, she added. They have popped up in various different continents during different time periods.
“There’s Native American ones, Central American ones,” Altham said. “There are stone carvings in Southern Italy, and they’re all the same pattern. It’s kind of mysterious.”
Altham said that some congregations and communities in the area have done labyrinths before, but KCT is excited to have a permanent labyrinth that everyone can use.
Tom Bradbury, the executive director of KCT, said that all the volunteers on the project have been dedicated to completing the labyrinth in a timely manner.
“We see it as a way of adding a spiritual component to the property,” he said. “It’s a chance for people to appreciate nature and their surroundings.”
Walking through a labyrinth is a different experience for everyone, Altham said. The main goal of the project, however, is to make sure the community is involved.
“We want the community to be part of it,” she said. “We want to build it with intention and collaboratively and connect to nature. Those three things are what it’s all about.”
People have been happy about the labyrinth’s handicap accessibility, Altham said. KCT hosted a “labyrinth of lights” event during Prelude last year, and many visitors who came expressed gratitude and excitement.
“We had a guy who teaches deaf kids and he really believed that this would be important for those kids,” Altham said. “And somebody who helps people with brain injuries said that this might even be healing. We realized that this isn’t just for people in wheelchairs, but people with all sorts of disabilities. We’re opening up to a part of the population that often gets forgotten.”
The entire path is made of stone dust and is wheelchair and walker friendly, Altham said. When designing the project, the volunteers wanted to create something that was both as accessible and as natural as possible.
Altham said that she can’t promise those who walk a spiritual or peaceful experience because it can be different for everyone.
“People might get an insight or even can feel something that’s upsetting,” she said. “So I’ve been told never promise someone a peaceful walk. Sometimes there’s no reaction. I think it’s the intention you walk it with. Some people walk it with a question or something that’s weighing them down. It’s almost like a prayer — like they have to figure this out. Walking with one foot in front of the other, it switches the brain. It takes you away from all the distractions.”
Once the labyrinth is complete, Altham said that she hopes to put a book together of the whole process.
The volunteers will be recording people’s names and stories, and a plaque will be made in honor of the names, Altham said.
Altham added that the project couldn’t have been possible without donated time from three contractors, notably Tim Spang of Spang Builders, who has been a tremendous help.
“We’ve been impressed by the excitement and work ethic by those who have brought this together so quickly,” Bradbury said. “We’re especially grateful to Tim Spang.”
For more details about the event, labyrinth or stone donation, visit

— Catherine Bart can be reached at or 780-9029.

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