DOVER — About two years ago, when Eagle Scout Derek Sweet was looking for ideas for an upcoming project, he found himself at Christ Episcopal Church, viewing the sunken remains of the churchyard’s labyrinth — and a lightbulb went off.
“I figured that this was the best place to start looking for an Eagle Scout project, … and I saw (the labyrinth), and I thought there (was) a lot of room for improvement here,” he said.
Throughout May and June, 17-year-old Derek, along with several Christ Church leaders and volunteers, have restored the labyrinth to its former glory, with an estimated 117 cumulative hours put into researching, planning and working to protect and preserve it for future generations.
Back in 2019, Derek, a longtime member of the church, spoke with Father Charles “Chuck” Weiss to brainstorm, eventually landing on renovating the labyrinth, which had sunk into the ground and gone unused for several years as a result.
Upon organizing volunteers consisting of members of the church and fellow Troop 903 Scouts, Derek and his team managed to breathe new life into the labyrinth and all it provides to visitors. The process included, in addition to organizing a budget and spreading the word, scattering dust onto and around the newly dug-up stones to prevent them from sinking and installing a flyer box with information regarding its structure and purpose.
For Christ Episcopal Church, Derek’s efforts to renovate the labyrinth now provides churchgoers and surrounding community members the opportunity to find peace.
“People slowly walk into its center. They may be completely silent, or perhaps repeat a prayer such as ‘O God, show me your way’ or ‘Lord, grant me your peace,’” Father Weiss said via email. “As we stay on the path of the labyrinth, we go to the ‘spiritual center,’ to the heart of God in prayer. Walking back out from the center, we re-enter our lives, having left behind our concerns, and carrying the stillness of God with us.”
Through his time spent cultivating a new ethereal presence into the labyrinth, Derek not only had the chance to give back but also take the lead on a project that would benefit all in the community.
“(While) spiritual meditation is what it’s made for, … at the same time, it really beautifies the yard,” the Dover High School student said. “Instead of scattered rocks, there’s a nice, clean-looking path.”
For Derek, fellow members of the church and the surrounding neighborhood, restoring the labyrinth has not only brought it back physically but also spiritually for generations to come.
“Derek spent countless hours planning his Eagle Scout project, … (and) we are all grateful for and impressed by his commitment to this effort,” Father Weiss said. “As the Labyrinth has been historically used by not only the Christ Church family, but also many visitors to our Church-yard, we are excited about this renovation.”
For more information regarding the labyrinth or to support Christ Episcopal Church, call 734-5731 or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.