An ancient antidote to the modern rush

Looking to be an antidote for the rushed, the busy and the overwhelmed Lynn Valley United Church has turned to the ancient labyrinth to offer locals a space to look inward, reflect and spiritually connect.


New building, historic idea


Lynn Valley United Church walkers

On the floor of the new contemporary church building is a very old tradition. Marked on the new floor is a labyrinth based on one of the world’s most famous in Chartres, France. The design in that cathedral is thought to have been built in the early 1200s. The four-quadrant design holds a path leading meditative walkers into the centre and back out.

Lynn Valley United Church invites anyone to come an used the peaceful walk to slow down and reflect. It is open to walk anytime the office is open (10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday) and during several special sessions throughout the month.

“We live in a culture where so much is coming at you – that is driven by ego. Anytime you can put aside the ego and listen to the inner you – I would say it is a spiritual moment,” said Kimiko Karpoff, Minister for Faith Formation at LVUC.

“The labyrinth is where you can bring your deeper questions and longings to the inner wisdom that exists in in each person. Walking a labyrinth is a spiritual practice – it can take you into deeper conversation. For some people it resonates with, that can be a deeper conversation with God. If that doesn’t resonate with you – a deeper conversation with our essential self,” she said.

“You can come and walk it as you are and approach it as you need to.”


Old traditions


Labyrinths exist in the history of just about every culture across the world. Just about as universally they are used for reflection and connection. Despite their wide symbolic appeal they are relatively rare in the Lower Mainland. A small handful exist in other churches and while there is an outdoor labyrinth at The Bridge Church in Deep Cove, there is no other indoor labyrinth on the North Shore.

Lynn Valley United Church finger board“One of things about a labyrinth is that people often mistake it for a maze,” said Karpoff. “A maze is designed to trick and fool. Whereas a labyrinth is actually a singular path where you can’t get lost. It is one single path that takes you into the centre. When you look at the pattern it switches back and forth, so when you are walking you don’t know where you are but the labyrinth knows where you are.”

She says that this is liberating because your mind must be occupied enough to follow the path and but still allows focus on other things.

“It is contemplative, so some people meditate,” said Karpoff. “You are paying attention, but it’s so simple you don’t have to think about it. Your body is doing something but your brain is given space to be creative.”  

LVUC has more information on the history of the practice and how one can meditate in the labyrinth on their website. Traditionally, the labyrinth is walked slowly at the pace you need in order to be reflective. Mentally it is approached in four steps:

  • Remembering – Acknowledge the people and things you are thankful for; be grateful to yourself for taking this time out, and your feet for getting you to the labyrinth.
  • Releasing – Let go of the negative, and the chatter that busies our minds, open yourself
  • Receiving – During the walk open yourself to the guidance, interior silence, peace, or a creative idea; whatever it is your soul chooses to nourish itself, however unexpected this may be.
  • Return – as you exit the labyrinth honour your insights and try to find space for them in world.

“I would love to see people have that time for peace,” said Karpoff. “It doesn’t necessary take a lot of time to do a spiritual practice. It is a simple as sitting and being or walking and being. If all you have is 20 minutes you can walk the labyrinth.”

There is more information on hand at the church on the labyrinth and how it is used and staff are happy to answer any questions labyrinth walkers may have.

“At Lynn Valley United Church we want people feel comfortable to come and be,” said Karpoff. “Some come and walk the labyrinth and go. Others come and connect and talk – that can be simple chit chat or deeper conversation.”


Special walks throughout the month:


LabyrinthFirst Wednesday – 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. – Walk with hymns and sacred music played on the piano.

Second Wednesday – 9 a.m. – Parents are encouraged to stop by for self-care after dropping children off at school.

Third Wednesday – 7 to 9 p.m. – Walk with contemplative music.

Fourth Wednesday – 4:45 p.m. onwards – Walk the labyrinth during Mid-Week Moments, an event for families of all shapes and sizes that integrates a shared meal, gathering for all-ages community worship and activities to stimulate spiritual connection, reflection and curiosity… which includes a playful and exuberant exploration of the labyrinth!

For more information reach out to Lynn Valley United Church at 604-987-2114.

LynnValleyLife is looking for this year’s Good Neighbour!

If you’ve been following LynnValleyLife for a while, you’ll know that one of our favourite times of the year is the lead up to our annual Good Neighbour Award.

Good Neighbour Award Winner Ribbon

All year ‘through we keep our ears to the ground for people who represent Lynn Valley at its finest – whether it is through acts of quiet kindness or participating in more public “passion projects” for a good cause. Last year’s recipients were Dave and Wilna Parry, who opened their doors to a blind Somalian refugee, and the year before that it was Cath Bates Dimmock, a volunteer coach who has given heart and soul to Argyle’s gymnastics program. Other times recipients have been people whose name you might not have heard before, but who are heroes on their street or in their organization for all the help they give to others.

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Lynn Valley donors warm hands and hearts

‘Twas the week before Christmas (or maybe a bit more)
When we asked you to keep your eyes peeled at the store
For gloves and hats, and protection from sleet
To help Cpl. Wong bring some warmth to the street.
You opened your hearts, and pulled out your purse
And here’s where we switch to narrative from verse…

It’s hard to switch into prose, however, because there was much that was poetic about our visit with Cpl. Randy Wong and his wife, Sahar Manochehri. The couple visited the LynnValleyLife editor’s home to pick up several large bags of items donated by readers to help stock the ziplocked care kits that Randy and Sahar assemble and distribute for the homeless in our local communities.

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Lynn Valley’s Good Neighbours for 2016 welcome the world

For those of us at LVLife HQ, a favourite holiday highlight is letting one of our local citizens know that they have been singled out for LynnValleyLife’s Good Neighbour Award. This year, we got double the pleasure, as this 2016’s Good Neighbours are a husband and wife. Wilna and Dave Parry were both surprised and delighted to receive the news, which was delivered along with a fresh Christmas wreath, donated Black Bear Pub gift certificate, and the promise of their engraved plaque in the new year.

Dave and Wilna have called Kirkstone Road their home for 26 years now, but these amazing Lynn Valley citizens took the scenic route to get here. Wilna was born in South Africa, and met Dave there as a young adult. Dave was an English speaker; at that time, Wilna only spoke Afrikaans. But a romance developed, and married life brought them to Canada.

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Hastings Creek kept clean by dedicated crew

By staff writer

If you saw a team of people strolling through the woods wearing muddy boots and toting hockey sticks on a rainy Saturday afternoon in the fall, you might think: “Yes, it’s hockey night in Canada, but these folks have gone too far.” The North Shore Streamkeepers (NSSK) are true Canadians, but they aren’t playing street hockey on the pond. They are cleaning the creek and looking for signs of coho salmon, all the way up to the pond. Donovan’s Pond, that is.

Hastings Creek is one of the six tributaries of Lynn Creek. Considered one of the most important small fish-bearing streams in North Vancouver, Hastings originates on the east slope of Grouse Mountain and flows through Princess Park, Hunter Park, the Lynn Valley commercial area, and various residential areas until it joins Lynn Creek in the Arbour Lynn area.

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Warm the homeless with help from first responders

Looking for some good news to warm a cold day? LynnValleyLife recently received this lovely press release from the North Vancouver RCMP, about a neighbourly initiative launched by Cst. Randy Wong and his wife, Sahar. Using money donated by Randy’s RCMP colleagues, the couple have been creating care packages for the men and women the constable encounters over the course of his days and nights on the streets of North Vancouver. The ziplock bags contain warm mitts, toques, socks, disposable rain ponchos, energy bars and other essential supplies for those whose lives are spent largely without shelter.

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Good Neighbour Award nominations open!

Every year LynnValleyLife takes pleasure in recognizing a Lynn Valley resident who goes the extra mile to make our community or the wider world a better place.

Good Neighbour Award Winner RibbonIt might be someone whose quiet small acts provide ongoing comfort and motivation to the circle that surrounds them – their neighbours, colleagues, or friends. It might be someone whose work through a non-profit group or as an individual has tackled one of the various troubling issues our society is facing. It might be someone who has inspired youth or stood by our seniors.

Last year’s Good Neighbour was Cath Bates Dimmock, a volunteer coach known as a wonderful role model for the students on the Argyle gymnastics team. We need your help to find this year’s Good Neighbour!

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Troubadour a fixture at Lynn Valley Mall

There aren’t many communities lucky enough to have as dedicated a mall musician as Linda, who can be heard most mornings on the bench outside Romance Jewellers in Lynn Valley Mall.

LindaLinda, who is blind and navigates with the use of a cane, is well known to regular shoppers and mall employees for her ukulele-accompanied songs such as “You are my Sunshine.” Linda says that people sometimes join in singing; most often they just pass by, but hopefully with a lighter step after hearing her.

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Over the Fence: David Hewitson, “Mayor of Lynn Valley Mall”

Today’s post continues an occasional feature called Over the Fence – a mini-profile of some of the interesting people who live or work in Lynn Valley. Have a suggestion of someone you’d like to see profiled? Let us know at info@LynnValleyLife.com!

Today we’re chatting over the fence with David Hewitson, friendly face and supervisor at the Rogers booth in Lynn Valley Mall, and unofficial “mayor” of the community shopping centre.

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Over the Fence: Mike Danks

With today’s post we begin an occasional feature called Over the Fence – a mini-profile of some of the interesting people who live or work in Lynn Valley. Have a suggestion of someone you’d like to see profiled? Let us know at info@LynnValleyLife.com!

Today we’re chatting over the fence with Mike Danks, team lead of North Shore Rescue, City of North Vancouver firefighter, and married father of three.

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