A memorial to the distinguished attorney and jurist Steele Hays in the form of an ancient labyrinth has visited the courtyard of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
A labyrinth is an ancient pattern — walkway, in fact, that dates back 5,000 years and is found in many cultures throughout the world. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has only one path that winds its way to the center and allows an individual to be engaged in prayerful meditation.
The labyrinth was constructed under the aegis of a church committee. It has been said that a labyrinth is an instrument that focuses the mind, indoctrinates the body, allows a person to sing praises of reflection and opens the heart to transformation.
When the idea for the labyrinth was being conceived, a committee of church congregants made plans to pursue the project contacting a firm in Connecticut that specialized in decorative and colorful pieces that would frame the labyrinth, some 20 to 32 feet in diameter with each step in the labyrinth more than two feet wide.
According to the church’s rector, Rev. Teri Daily, prayers of thanksgiving both for the life of Steele Hays and the labyrinth took place during a candlelight walk before and after the past Easter Vigil.;
She said a formal dedication of the labyrinth will take place later in the year when Bishop Larry Benfield visits St. Peter’s Church.
Thus the Steele Hays Memorial Labyrinth pays tribute to the long-time member of St. Peter’s Church and eminent judge who served on the Arkansas Supreme Court from 1981 to 1995.
Hays had been a member of the prestigious law firm of Spitzberg, Mitchell and Hays after graduating from the University of Arkansas and George Washington University.
He served as circuit judge for Pulaski and Perry Counties, after being named by the former Governor Winthrop Rockefeller, and the first Arkansas Court of Appeals to which he was appointed by then Governor Bill Clinton.
Hays was married to the Reverend Peggy Hays, a former vicar of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.
An effusion of wit and humor marked Hay’s life. His storehouse of witticisms, quips and wordplay distinguished his persona. Yet he was a serious scholar, well read and articulate, charming in conversation and informal speech. His knowledge of literature was impressive, and his knowledge concerning President Abraham Lincoln was vast as it was of other historical figures and events.
After several years of practicing law, Hays was called to testify in a trial. On cross examination, the lawyer asked him who he thought was the best lawyer in the state.
"I am," Hays replied. After the trial, a friend who had been in the courtroom approached him and said: "Don’t you think your answer to the question was rather immodest?"
To which, Hays replied: "Yes, I suppose it was, but what could I do? I was under oath."
Contributions to the Steele Hays Memorial Labyrinth may be made payable to The St. Peter’s Labyrinth Fund and mailed to: St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 925 Mitchell Street, Conway, AR, 72034.