The path to healing has many twists and turns

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Judy Hopen, with Labyrinth Enterprises, mixes colored concrete Friday afternoon outside the Carson Tahoe Cancer Center. Hopen is creating a labyrinth at the entrance to the facility which is expected to open Nov. 6.

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Judy Hopen, with Labyrinth Enterprises, mixes colored concrete Friday afternoon outside the Carson Tahoe Cancer Center. Hopen is creating a labyrinth at the entrance to the facility which is expected to open Nov. 6.

The path to spiritual enlightenment is paved in forest-green cement by a trio of women in socked feet.

The designers from Labyrinth Enterprises Inc. were bundled in layers of clothing against the blistering wind whipping around the Carson Tahoe Cancer Center on Friday morning, the scene for the company's first concrete creation in Nevada. They tiptoed on the 35-foot diameter concrete slab in white socks.

"It's like an art canvas," said production manager Judy Hopen. "We have to keep it clean."

When the state's first accredited cancer center opens on Nov. 6, patients and visitors will be able to walk to the six-petaled center of the design, a symbol for the healing experience.

The decorative feature is funded by a $200,000 grant from the Carson City Noon Rotary Club, said Pam Graber, Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare Foundation executive director. The cancer center, 1535 Medical Parkway, is southwest of the new hospital in North Carson City.

For the next two days, the three women will mix colored concrete with a bonding agent and then paint it on the cement. They'll be on their knees dabbing paint for 10 to 12 hours a day.

"On a deeply spiritual and personal level, I'm pleased with my work," says Hopen. "My work brings betterment to others' lives. I'm not just crunching numbers."

She has made more than 100 labyrinths at homes, schools, hospitals and retreat centers. Some of them are Zen experiences, she says, while others present environmentally difficulties. Beside these mountains and the freeway, it's the wind.

This is the first large project for Dhyana Raynor, of Indianapolis, and Karen Clute, of Dayton, Ohio. Hopen watches over the newbies at every stage, from measuring to mixing.

"Part of my journey in life is sharing my love of the labyrinth," says Raynor. "I consider it an honor to be a part of a labyrinth that is going to offer a profound experience for those who choose to walk it."

Or to those stricken by cancer who are in a wheelchair, a walker or stroller.

Walking the labyrinth

What is it? The labyrinth is a design inlaid into a cement foundation. The eight paths, turning in four quadrants, lead to the center six-petaled rosette. The Carson Tahoe Cancer Center labyrinth is 35 feet in diameter, on a concrete pad in front of the 1535 Medical Parkway building. It's modeled after a 1201 A.D. labyrinth located at the Chartres Cathedral in France.

How is it made? The Labyrinth Enterprises' workers cut the paths using a circular saw, which is attached to the center of the design by a pole. The colored concrete containing a bonding agent is painted between each line and into the grooves to create an inlay.

When can it be seen? Visitors won't be able to walk on it until late September or early October. The cancer Center open house is 1-4 p.m. Nov. 4.

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.

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