July 2014 

 



Facilitator Spotlight: Laura Esculcas

By Chris Farrow-Noble, Council Member

Laura Esculcas, one of three new members of Veriditas Council, says “Ola” from Lisbon Portugal and shares her story with the labyrinth (labirinto, one word for labyrinth and maze in Portuguese.)

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Did you find the labyrinth or did it find you?

I feel we were introduced to each other. On December 1, 2001, I attended an Advent Quiet Day, sponsored by St. Jude’s Episcopal Church in Cupertino, California. I had been in high tech manufacturing at Intel for five years. On this very wet northern California day, we drove to a church in Santa Cruz with a bluestone classical labyrinth in the grass. We were first instructed to try a walking meditation in straight lines in the indoor parish hall and then to walk the labyrinth outdoors. I was very off-balance indoors, then pulled my hood up, put my head down, and walked the labyrinth in the pouring rain. I felt more balanced and found it easier for my thoughts to accompany me, rather than feeling distressed by my mind wandering.

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Did you actively seek out the labyrinth after that?

No, I feel the labyrinth went into an incubation period within me. Whenever I was in San Francisco, I would walk the outside labyrinth at Grace Cathedral. In 2003 while preparing for my sabbatical, I set my goal to be fully present. I don’t recall coordinating that time with the labyrinth, and at that time I didn’t consider my six weeks in South America a pilgrimage. Yet I feel the labyrinth influenced my ability to take that journey. A guiding inspiration at St. Jude’s stayed with me, “Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, you are welcome here.” In many ways, the journey I began on the labyrinth eventually took me to Portugal in 2007. A few years later on a California visit, I participated in a Hiking Yoga™ event that ended at the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral. I took the group into the labyrinth, sharing what I knew. I enjoyed walking it again and became curious about the possibility of a labyrinth community. Adjusting to life in far-away Portugal had been difficult for me, and this idea was appealing.

How did you transport this interest to Portugal?

The amazing thing is that during my reconnection with the labyrinth in Grace Cathedral, I recalled hearing about a labyrinth 45 minutes from our home in Lisbon. In 2010 I showed up at the Ritz-Carlton hotel complex and asked if I could walk the labyrinth. The receptionist responded, “Of course, but we don’t know how.” By that time I had reread Lauren’s book, “Walking the Sacred Path” and shared with him what I knew. I realized that I wanted to sign up for Facilitator Training. That specific labyrinth and community was calling me.

Was your facilitator training at Chartres your first introduction to Veriditas?

Yes, our first in-person contact with Veriditas was in May 2011 when my husband Nuno joined me in the workshop with Judith Tripp and Frank De Badrihayé called, ”A Quest for Mystical Christianity.“ I attended the facilitator training afterwards. That experience opened the door to us for future spiritual journeys together. Nuno is Catholic, and his first labyrinth walk was in Chartres Cathedral. That week was life-changing for three primary reasons: 1) it established a strong link to Chartres, 2) the labyrinth became a spiritual practice for us as a couple, and 3) it opened my eyes to the community of people within Veriditas, which has proven to be one of the most important communities in my life.



 

That initial experience in Chartres seems to have lit the fire under your labyrinth involvement.

Everything moved quickly after that. Immediately upon our return from Chartres, we hired an artisan to build our 12’ diameter, seven-circuit classical concentric labyrinth using mosaic Portuguese cobblestones from a quarry near Fatima. The path is white stone, and the field is black stone, using the same stones seen in the stunning sidewalks of Lisbon. By the time I had completed my Advanced Training in 2012, I had offered over 35 walks at the Spa and had trained staff there. In 2013, I completed my Master’s degree in Wisdom Studies at Wisdom University.

How has the Spa continued to be your calling to the labyrinth?

This extensive Ritz-Carlton complex has a beautiful Chartres-style labyrinth, and several Spa staff members love the labyrinth and inform clients about both private and small group walks. In addition, the Spa has agreements with wellness tour groups that book week-long experience, which include meditative and stress management labyrinth walks. 

It sounds like a very enlightened Spa and complex. Is it on an historic site?

Penha Longa Resort is on the site is a 19th century palace originally founded in 1355 as a monastery. The Church of Our Lady of Good Health, built over the original church after the Lisbon earthquake, is a few minutes from the Spa. The labyrinth, built in 2005, is approximately 18 feet in diameter and made of Portuguese cobblestone. Spa guests mostly come from Europe and North America, and it’s wonderful to see how each person responds to the labyrinth. The path is a universal metaphor and I think that’s what the Spa manager understands and seeks to promote. This labyrinth remains my calling.




Do you find ways to integrate the labyrinth with your life-coaching practice?

This is a constantly evolving creation. Initially I worked with companies, using finger labyrinths to begin a session. Later I shifted to working with individuals and small groups, often introducing the labyrinth and offering follow-up sessions on the Spa’s labyrinth. I also offer coaching online via Skype or FaceTime. I call my life-coaching work “Make Way Coaching” to reflect my process, even as I remain open to a name that better describes the Spirit-led aspect of my work.

How do you envision your contribution to the Veriditas Council?

The thread of the labyrinth community continues to unfold and lead me. The Council’s focus on the needs of facilitators offers me a beautiful opportunity to reach out to the facilitators in Southern Europe and beyond. I am also fortunate to be near Chartres where I can continue to participate as a small group leader. I look forward to welcoming the Council and facilitators from around the world to Portugal. I have begun offering mini-pilgrimage tours to share local sacred places, mythology, and legends and will be teaching a Mystical Portugal course in 2015 that involves a one-week pilgrimage to Portugal. The image of Ariadne’s thread resonates deeply with me. I envision Veriditas as the thread between each of us and others within Veriditas. This thread brings us to the labyrinth and brings us new friendships. Veriditas offers us community and a way to look at our path, meeting other people who are seeking ways integrated with Spirit to grow, to learn, and to be authentic. We are expanding our ways caminhar o labirinto (to walk the labyrinth.)

“Obrigada” 

(Thank you, as spoken by Laura.)



Donor Spotlight

By Rita Canning, Development Coordinator

For July I had the joy of interviewing Cindy Cleary, former Veriditas Board member and Council member. She is also a current member of the Scholarship Committee, a donor to Veriditas, an artist and grandmother of 11.



Rita: When did you first encounter the labyrinth?

Cindy:
It was in about 2001 at Sibley Park up in the Oakland Hills. Hiking in the park, I came across a stone labyrinth in the dirt; that’s the first labyrinth I walked. Through the MFA program I was in – Arts and Consciousness at JFK University - I learned about the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral. In 2002 I was working one day a week with a friend who was the art coordinator at an adult day center in the Tenderloin in San Francisco. After being there for a while I felt I needed to go up and walk the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral. I started walking whenever I came into San Francisco. I really came to love the labyrinth. It was a calming experience for me, an integration of body and spirit. I always felt moved and quieted by it. I continue to love the fact that I never know who is going to be on the Grace labyrinth. It feels like community – all kinds of people - from the labyrinth community, tourists, diverse residents of the neighborhood - come to walk the labyrinth.

Rita: How did you get involved with Veriditas?

Cindy:
I eventually found my way to Chartres. About a year after putting my name on a mailing list at Grace, I got a postcard in the mail about the Chartres program “Walking a Sacred Path”. I went to France with my partner, and it was a wonderful and amazing experience to walk the labyrinth there. After Chartres I did a Grace Pilgrimage in SF with my daughter and then did the Facilitator Training. After that I stayed in touch with Veriditas and Lauren. In early 2004, Lauren told me about her idea for the “Spider Plant Project” - a group that later became the Veriditas Council - the image of a spider plant with Veriditas as the mother plant and the “baby” plant offshoots representing the many different ideas, projects and experiences that is the work of Veriditas. She asked me to help organize the first weekend meeting, which was held in March 2004. We spent that weekend together with Lauren working on different areas of need that the organization had around programs, facilitator trainings and issues of organizational identity. A number of people who are currently on the Council – or have recently left - were at that first meeting and have stayed actively involved.
 

Rita: What inspirations have you gained through your work with the labyrinth? Anything more you’d like to share about your time as a Board or Council member?

Cindy:
It was a tremendous, tremendous gift to be on the Council and, then, eventually on the Board as the representative Council Member. It was a really important time in the organization of developing stronger lines of communication and ways for the two groups to work together… really building and strengthening Veriditas. It was (and still is) amazing work. For me personally it was a deepening experience of community with so many loving, committed and inspirational people. One of the things the Council started during this time, and is still being done, is to hold our meetings in different parts of the country and invite the local Facilitators to come and talk with us about their needs and experiences... to be able to answer questions and to generally be an in-person connection with the organization. We have lunch together, get to know each other and talk about ways to stay connected. What keeps me inspired about the labyrinth is what it offers. It’s there for whatever you need it to be. It doesn’t have a dogma attached to it, so it’s wide open. We all see over and over that amazing things happen for people when they walk the labyrinth. I have seen people holding on very tight and, over time, actually be able to feel things in a different way. Be more open. The labyrinth lets you be more in touch with your heart. I personally had a very moving experience at Chartres a month after my mother died. My father had died about 9 years before my mother and she never really got over her loss. Walking on the labyrinth in Chartres, my heart opened wide enough so that, for the first time, I could actually feel the depth of my mother’s grief. I realized that, because of my own grief at losing him, I hadn’t been able to let her to have hers. It was a tremendous revelation. With that walk I felt like something about compassion had opened-up in me. It was an exquisite moment. I love that piece of the labyrinth… that it is an open offering.

Rita: Why do you donate to Veriditas?

Cindy:
I continue to give because I’m inspired to. I really see its possibilities. I’ve been interested in bringing the labyrinth to underserved populations and taking it into places you wouldn’t usually find it. I am inspired by facilitators working in jails and schools and on issues of violence. The way Veriditas can continue to grow is to reach further and further into communities. There is so much that can happen there. I’m inspired by what it has been and what it can be. I know Veriditas can and does inspire people. I am happy that I still serve on the Scholarship Committee, which oversees a program that supports people with limited income to be able to take facilitator training. I’ve seen the programs change people. Every time I walk in a group I can see that. Every one of the many times I’ve been to Chartres I watch people open to the experience. I want everyone to have access to that possibility.

Sibley Park Labyrinth


Global Healing Response


The Global Healing Response, founded in 2005 by Council member Ellen Bintz Meuch, offers an annual theme and quarterly ideas and information to enrich labyrinth walks. The GHR theme for 2014 is Unity and the focus for this quarter is Compassion /Understanding. The quote “Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.”― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The third quarter is posted on the website, www.globalhealingresponse.com. We encourage you to visit the site soon and often.
 

Little Miracles on the Path


Each month, Linda Mikell, secretary to the Veriditas Council and New England Regional Representative, emails a Little Miracles on the Path story to 439 facilitators who have signed up for them. Facilitators from all over the world send her stories about interesting, touching events that happen at their labyrinth walks. If you would like to receive these stories, please contact Linda (edlinmik@optonline.net). Please don’t forget to send your story when you have one. Little Miracles are archived on the Facilitators Portal of the Veriditas Website.
 

Veriditas Annual Auction



October 6th to October 27th


The Veriditas organization is growing along with the work of the labyrinth in the world! We have found an easy and fun way to support this growth - and shop for cool stuff at the same time. Our On-line auction, powered by BiddingForGood, is fast approaching. Bidding begins in October. So, now is the time to build a fantastic auction catalog of items. Thanks, in advance, for your interest and support!

Two Ways to Help

Donate an Item


Donating an item is easy! (It’s even easier than listing an item on eBay). Just go to www.biddingforgood.com/veriditas and click “Donate an item.” You will need a digital photo of your item and a description for the listing. If you have any trouble listing an item please contact Joyce Krajian.

Donation ideas include labyrinth items, music, artwork, gift cards to national restaurants or stores (i.e. Starbucks, Borders), getaway vacation sites, services, books signed by authors - you get the idea! No item is too small! It’s great to have a wide price range of things to choose from.

Sponsor our Auction:


There are literally thousands of people who receive the information about our auction and are interested in the labyrinth. So, if you are a labyrinth vendor, artist, author, restaurant or store owner, this is a great way to advertise!!!


 

Bid on an Item


Beginning on October 6th the auction will be open. Please visit the Veriditas BiddingForGood site often to view our catalog of exciting items. It’s fun to check on your items and bids!

The auction site can be reached at www.biddingforgood.com/veriditas. If you have any trouble, please don’t hesitate to contact Joyce Krajian. She will send you an easy link via email.

Feel free to pass this information on to anyone who you think might be interested!

Bid high and Bid often!

Questions? Contact Joyce Krajian at veriditasauction@gmail.com

Help spread the word about our auction on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also download an item donation form here to print and share with your local community.

Questions? Contact Joyce Krajian at veriditasauction@gmail.com

Help spread the word about our auction on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. 
You can also download an item donation form here to print and share with your local community.




101 San Antonio Road, Petaluma, CA 94952   |   707-283-0373   |   contact@veriditas.org

Veriditas is dedicated to inspiring personal and planetary change and renewal through the labyrinth experience.

We accomplish our mission by training and supporting labyrinth facilitators around the world, and offering meaningful events that promote further understanding of the labyrinth as a tool for personal and community transformation. Our Vision is that the labyrinth experience guides us in developing the higher level of human awareness we need to thrive in the 21st century.

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