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DECATUR, Ala. – The pandemic has taken a toll on all of us, and after nearly a year, we’ve all found different ways to cope with the hardships that accompany the virus. Church of the Good Shepard in Decatur is offering their labyrinth to those needing to clear their minds.

Church of the Good Shepard Rector Bude Vandyke takes a walk along his church’s labyrinth anytime he has a heavy thought he needs to rationalize.

“There’s some mornings I can’t even tell you why, I just weep, especially during this pandemic,” he said.

He brought the idea to his congregation last year as a method, he said, for them to leave their struggles in God’s hands.

“There’s something about taking steps while you’re thinking about this, moving towards something that you can’t exactly see the way you’re going to get there; there’s something about that that plays on both sides of the mind: the rational side and the emotional side,” Vandyke said.

He never thought that one year later, the labyrinth would take on such a necessary role for parishioners’ self maintenance of their mental health.

“We did, early on, talk about it being able to make it available to like first responders and people like that that have to deal with a lot of trauma and stress,” he said. “[We] had no idea that this pandemic would come, and yet, this has been one of the ways I’ve dealt with the pandemic.”

Parishioner Tricia Pruitt says it’s a quiet place, especially during the day, to take time alone to walk and clear your head.

“You start off with all the things on your mind, but as you go, you realize the weights are being lifted from you. And in a time like this when people are hurting,” she said, “it’s just a wonderful place to come and let that go.”

Both Vandyke and Pruitt said the labyrinth isn’t just for the religious. Coming to terms with your trauma has potential to help anyone, and they’re extending the invitation.

“People are just welcomed to come enjoy it, to experience the letting go,” Vandyke said.

No matter why you come by the labyrinth, you can spend as much time as you need to clear your mind before walking out of the maze and back into your day with clarity.

Church of the Good Shepard is located at 3809 Spring Avenue Southwest in Decatur. Visitors are welcomed anytime, but Van Dyke and Pruitt emphasized while this is a great informal option to nurture mental health, it should not be a replacement for professional therapy.