Labyrinth helps Fairbanks man through chronic pain

Ramey Wood shows a finger board labyrinth that uses a design similar to the labyrinth on his property. (Dan Bross/KUAC)

The labyrinth constructed on Ramey Wood’s land in West Fairbanks is hidden by willow, alder, birch, grass and wildflowers. It isn’t until you begin walking through it that you see its narrow circular paths were precisely sculpted into the earth or that they’re regularly maintained in concert with the forest.

“It’s work but it’s doing as much as me,” Wood said.

Wood suffers from chronic neurologic pain. He says the labyrinth provides a literal path to calming and focusing the mind.

“The pattern allows one to not have to worry about where one’s going. You can allow yourself to concentrate on whatever it is that you’re thinking about, whatever your intention is — your question, your problem, your concern, what you’re stressing about, what you’re excited about — and then allow yourself to just go through that motion,” he said.

It takes about 20 minutes to walk the medieval-style labyrinth, which spans 66 feet. There’s one path to the center and a different but adjacent path back out. When you walk the labyrinth, you know where you’re going, but the circuitous path to get there requires a certain surrender.

“Trust the pattern, and then do what you can with it,” he said.

Wood stresses that a labyrinth itself isn’t a cure or remedy.

“To make them be something like a prescription, I think that’s goofy,” he said. “I like it. I enjoy it. I’m dependent on it. I love the relationship with it. And at the same time like, it’s only worthwhile in that relationship, it’s only worthwhile in the act of engagement. It isn’t a thing.”

Wood characterizes the labyrinth as a friend of sorts, helping him navigate through pain.

“I know that sounds…whatever it sounds like, you know, to have it as your friend. But I hope more people can find friends like that,” he said.

Wood shares the labyrinth with local people as well as travelers passing through town.

KUAC - Fairbanks

KUAC is our partner station in Fairbanks. KTOO collaborates with partners across the state to cover important news and to share stories with our audiences.

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