Pathways Spiritual Sanctuary walk welcomes all
Condensed by Native Village
South Dakota: Even though the land speaks loudly to him, Dave Snyder hopes Pathways Spiritual
Sanctuary will be a place of quiet solitude for others.
Snyder opened Pathways Spiritual Sanctuary in the Black Hills last July. Free of charge,
it was created as a place for people to find solace, silence and
land speaks very loudly to me,” Snyder said. While it may tell of its beauty, it also commands him to
honor things that are “beyond belief.”
Snyder, that means beyond religions cultures, dogmas, divisions, separations and
“The interesting thing about all the major religions … is that they’re really
all saying the same thing,” Snyder said. “That commonality is what I hope to
The sanctuary takes its theme — Beyond Belief — from the title of a bronze shield sculpted by artist Grant Standard. The shield displays symbols
from nine major religions surrounding Mother Earth. This reflects Snyder’s hope
that Pathways will serve those of all beliefs while endorsing none.
“It’s universal — what religions are trying to teach,” he said. “This place is
about allowing people to be who they are in this space.”
Beyond Belief is bounded on
three sides by National Forest Service land lands, and a small lake on the
other. The sanctuary’s path moves through an amazing variety of ecosystems in 1
Around the first bend is a bronze
sculpture that stands 14 feet tall and weighs about 2,800 pounds. Titled
“The Invocation” it portrays a Native American warrior
astride a horse, holding aloft the sun-bleached
skull of a buffalo -– man and creature paying homage to the spirit
Snyder hopes to place more bronze sculptures along the pathway, perhaps those of
great spiritual leaders in conversation with each other.
For now, there is a bronze angel sculpted by Lee Leuning. A child sits with his
head in his mother’s lap. The mother has wings. It is dedicated to Snyder’s own
mother, who died at age 25 when Snyder was 2.
As people exit the pathway, they’ll see a prayer of
affirmation: “I leave this sacred space committed to continue walking a path of
love, compassion, tolerance and forgiveness for myself and all others. I leave
with gratitude and a lightened heart.”
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