When Lucy Tobias first stepped foot into Saint Boniface Episcopal Church in 2016, she also discovered her first labyrinth, a spiral-shaped maze rooted in Greek mythology. Comprised of multiple paths all leading to the same center, labyrinths are often sacred spaces nestled into places of worship, but can also be found in retreat centers, hospitals, colleges and private gardens all over the world. “They’re incredibly peaceful,” Tobias says. “When you first walk in, you realize that there is a beauty to this ancient structure.” To some labyrinth lovers, these spiral paths are a walking meditation that can lead to spiritual transformation; to others, they’re just restful, fun places to meander. Tobias went on a labyrinth quest across the state and catalogued these spiral spaces in her book, Circle the Center: Labyrinths in Florida. “I discovered a whole new sacred experience in the Sunshine State—mindful walking on meandering yet purposeful paths all the way from the Panhandle to South Florida,” she wrote. Here are seven that she found in Sarasota.
First Presbyterian Church, 2050 Oak St.
A red brick path outside the church.
“There’s a two-foot wall all the way around the labryinth so it’s separate from the parking lot. What nobody realizes is that the wall has a reverb, meaning that it amplifies sound. This is the labyrinth for you if you like to sing.”
Unity of Sarasota, 3023 Proctor Road
An outdoor labyrinth of concrete pavers located in a grove of oak trees behind the church.
“That is the only labyrinth I’ve ever walked into that has four peace poles. Most places only have one. A peace pole is a monument that has four sides, and each side has the same message [of peace] written in a different language. If you order a peace pole online, you get to pick out which languages you want. Unity of Sarasota has four peace poles at the four compass points, so you can face either north, south, east or west.”
Behind the Kanaya Condos, 505 S. Orange Ave.
A tiny brick pathway on a sidewalk in an alley outside Kanaya.
“It’s so easy to run the circuits of this labyrinth. Kids love it.”
Saint Boniface Episcopal Church, 5615 Midnight Pass Road
A paver path inside a peaceful courtyard of the church.
“There’s a high contrast between the outline and the path, which has a fountain and a place to sit. I’ve taken a brown bag lunch to eat here. It’s in an inner courtyard, and you would have no idea.”
Church of the Trinity Metropolitan Church, 7225 Lockwood Ridge Road
A mulch path outlined in pavers underneath large oak trees.
“It’s huge. It’s a place for meditation because you can’t even hear the traffic around the road.”
Pine Shores Presbyterian Church, 6135 Beechwood Ave.
A grass path outside the church.
“It’s very small and sweet, right next to the parking lot. There’s a bench on the center that faces the peace pole.”
Saint Margaret of Scotland Episcopal Church, 8700 State Road 72*
A small labyrinth with a dirt path and a rock outline.
“This is a small but sweet three-circuit contemporary labyrinth. The name is actually bigger than the labyrinth.”
*Tobias found this labyrinth after the book was published.