Please join us in offering Jenny Slama a warm welcome to the Veriditas team! She joins us as part time Administrative Assistant and brings years of finance, technology, and admin experience - always with a smile! Jenny earned dual Bachelors of Sciences degrees from Portland State University. For over twelve years Jenny worked in the financial planning and investment management industry. The inherit pressure of dealing with (sometimes very challenging) financial markets helped Jenny understand the value of personal balance and nurturing your spiritual self. Read more about Jenny's background here.
Jenny can be reached at email@example.com
(Kathleen is shifting roles and is now our Events and Facilitator Coordinator, and Anne has shifted over to Marketing, Communications and Website Manager).
Did you find the labyrinth or did it find you?
We were brought together by a wise young woman I first met on Iona. My father, an Anglican priest, was gravely ill and had been in the hospital for three months. She said, "You need a rest. Go to Malling Abbey for a couple of nights. There's a lovely labyrinth in the orchard there." I did as she suggested, and, as I walked the great turf labyrinth, I had a flood of experiences, and felt a great sense of peace, of being held. The labyrinth is an 11-circuit Medieval design - not immediately apparent as it accommodates the old apple trees within its space, so is somewhat organic! I continued to walk it throughout my stay. But my big question as I returned home was "Why don't more people know about this?" The seed was sown.
How did you first connect with Veriditas?
The same wise young woman later invited me to prepare a simple labyrinth liturgy for our team ministry in Richmond. She showed me a beautiful piece of labyrinth art made by artist, Jane Spencer, who had recently died. She suggested that I visit her widower, as Jane had had a particular fascination for labyrinths. I 'followed the thread' and there, at Cedric's home, was a bookshelf full of labyrinth books, including Kern's great volume and Lauren's "Walking a Sacred Path' which he lent me. As soon as I read about labyrinth facilitator training, I felt a surge of excitement and knew it was calling me! Within the year, I was traveling to San Francisco's Grace Cathedral for my training with Lauren and for an additional workshop on labyrinth construction taught by Robert Ferré (July/August 2010).
How did you realize your deep soul connection to Iona?
My father stayed on Iona in 1950 as a young ordinand and had a deep love for the island - a chunk of Iona marble, an off-cut from the great altar made for the abbey early last century, stood on his desk all my childhood and has now passed to me. In 2006 I had the chance to go there on pilgrimage and have been every year since. It is a place of home-coming for me, ever-changing yet changeless. I love the rich history of the island, its people, artisans and monks not to mention the glorious beaches and extraordinary geology of this tiny place. Here, the Celtic belief that everything is sacred, that Nature is God’s first Big Book, is palpable. You can go on pilgrimage, hear a corncrake (a rare bird that breeds there), see dolphins and experience four seasons all in one day. As I wander around the island I love to make labyrinths from found materials, leaving them as gifts for others to discover.
Offering my father back into the ocean of God, on Iona
You seem to be on a clear yet evolving spiritual path. Please tell us about this and several important crossroads.
Do you consider this your most active labyrinth community?
My labyrinth community is the group with whom I built the St. Yves labyrinth in Chartres in 2011. We continue to support each other through life's ups and downs, share labyrinth wisdom, and meet when we can, most often to do a little maintenance work on 'our labyrinth' in Chartres.
What do you consider to be the most challenging element in your labyrinth work?
Being paid for what I do - perhaps it's because I'm so enthusiastic about the labyrinth or because it's seen as 'spiritual' work but there's no doubt, in my experience, that it is hard to recoup the costs of resourcing our ministry - training, materials etc. I'm not sure what the answer is but we need to acknowledge this situation and seek solutions.
My biggest physical challenge was arriving in Italy to build a labyrinth on a hillside for friends who have a retreat house there. Unfortunately the promised materials, large stones from the property’s land, had not been gathered and so I set about pulling them out of the wet clay soil, with just two days to complete the project. I almost despaired until I began contemplating the incredible journey of these ancient stones as well as my own, brought together to create a sacred path for others who would come here. It was a remarkable experience as, together, we decided where the stones were best placed. When completed, the labyrinth looked as though it had been there forever.
Umbertide labyrinth - morning of the first day after completion
How do you find the labyrinth to be helpful in your own personal spiritual life?
Perhaps above all, when life is particularly stressful or difficult, I return to the experience of standing in the pure stillness of the centre of the labyrinth. I also find walking the labyrinth invaluable when I'm in the process of discernment. It allows my inner voice and faithful body to share their wisdom - I have only to let their knowing guide me.
How do you envision your next steps into your spiritual development?
I am drawn to ancient spiritual practices: - the labyrinth, pilgrimage, the use of prayer beads, the monastic marking of the Hours, as well as to contemplative photography. I've facilitated a weekly meditation group for over six years now. I'm interested in what connects us as a human family, what brings us to the still point where we can hear our own deepest longings and respond to those of our world.
I dream of us all creating kind circles of belonging wherever we are.
The labyrinth continues to lead me on a creative journey as I explore themes of embodied prayer and pilgrimage through the media of prose and poetry, art, music, embroidery, collage and found materials. I once stitched a labyrinth in the Sinai Desert, using wool carried from Iona - a pilgrimage within a pilgrimage.
(written in the centre of the Malling Abbey labyrinth)
Please tell us about a profound experience that you've had or witnessed on the labyrinth.
One evening as Dad lay bedridden near the end of his life, we were talking about the labyrinths. I explained that they can be seen as a metaphor for our life journey, that unlike the maze, there are no dead ends... with a twinkle in his eye he said, “Well there is one dead end,” then after a pause, “but that’s just the start of another labyrinth.” Thankfully I recorded this conversation in my journal, rediscovering it when the book fell open at that page. Imagine my amazement when, just a week later, I walked into a church holding a labyrinth event for Holy Week, and saw my father’s words embodied before my eyes. Jim Buchanan had unexpectedly set up his ‘light’ labyrinth installation and aligned it with the labyrinth canvas already in place so that the path from one led directly onto the other. The experience of walking from the 'earthly' canvas onto the path of light was both profound and joyful - a precious experience indeed.
Holy Week labyrinth evening in London (Jim Buchanan's light labyrinth aligned with Jan Seller's canvas) "Death is just the beginning of another labyrinth" (Michael Grime)
I want to share with everyone that the first Legacy Labyrinth built in Argentina celebrated it’s 2nd anniversary, in March! I can hardly believe that it was so short a time ago. Our friend Fernando in LaFalda shared that people in the city’s central park (where it lives), still walk the labyrinth regularly and that the city has added flowers and grass. Because it is a Legacy Labyrinth built for peace and healing of a community, a beloved member of the community orchestrated a walk for his family to honor the passing of his wife of cancer. It was reported that it was a very beautiful event.
There are now 10 new interests in Legacy Labyrinth’s around the world and all interests are being pursued! Please join us in celebrating this project’s vision to create Legacy Labyinth’s that bridge all continents interconnecting us all in peace and light.
Legacy Labyrinth Project Director
For the month of April I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Barbara Ludlum. Barbara is a member of our Sustainers Circle who has been involved with Veriditas and Lauren for many years. Veriditas is very grateful to have her services as our Volunteer Financial Controller.
How did you get involved in the labyrinth with Veriditas and Lauren?Once I got interested in the labyrinth right after 9/11, I started going to Grace Cathedral on my own quite a lot and walking. It was very soothing and it just answered something in me. I just really liked the whole experience. So after I was walking the labyrinth a lot and loving it I thought “Gosh, I’ve got experience in non-profits, especially in restricted funds. Let me send my resume and say I’d like to work with them.” I sent my resume off to Grace Cathedral, thinking there was a Development Director there. I waited months and months with no response. One day in the afternoon I got a call from Lauren. When she introduced herself, I said “I know who you are.” She was calling me to thank me for a donation I made. I told her, “I want to work for you! I want to volunteer for you!” She asked what my area of expertise was. “I know about non-profit finance.” She said “Oh, yes, yes!” It was at the time when Veriditas was moving away from the Cathedral to be more independent and they needed to look at their finances. This is something that I’m very capable of doing. So I met with Lauren and the Board Chair at the time. We wanted to find answers so I did a “fly over” budget. This is a 20,000 foot look down at what the finances were. That term has stayed with Lauren all these years and she still often uses it. I got involved that way, helping with the budget. As this got more challenging in terms of funding, I started working with Dawn and the Board Chair to create operating budgets and cash flow. I was thrilled to do this. I really loved that I could lend service to this organization. After a while the friendships grew and that was fun. I wanted to help foster and expand the work of the labyrinth. I wanted to do what was needed. I’m pretty careful about lending my service. And Veriditas offers a fostering of ritual, a fostering of quiet contemplation, and spiritual magic that I was certain I wanted to lend my service to.
I brought my questions to the labyrinth in the first five to ten years. And not caring about the answers, just asking the questions. I was raised in a religion where, almost always, when you used the word faith, you always used the phrase “faith in…” Usually faith in God. In my experience of walking the labyrinth I feel very watched over. And one day when I was walking on the labyrinth it occurred to me that that is faith and it doesn’t have the rest of the phrase in it. I have a lot of faith and it’s not defined by a particular religion or set of beliefs that have to be codified or defined. It’s just faith, not faith in something. The fact that I feel watched over, I trust that. That’s faith. It’s something on its own and I have that in spades. And I’m really, really grateful. And now in the last several years I’m in gratitude for everything around me as well as what is coming to me.
Why are you a Sustaining Giver to Veriditas?I’m a Sustaining Giver for basically two reasons. The first is on a personal basis. I wanted to balance out my year end expenses and not have a big output at the end of the year. I want to be able to spread it out throughout the year. After years of watching contributions coming into Veriditas in December, and watching the organization sometimes have financial difficulties the rest of the year, I know that we need more members to spread out their giving over the year to make operating Veriditas easier. The second reason I became a Sustaining Giver is that now I don’t have to think about it, it just happens automatically.
Donating to Veriditas is important because no one else is doing this work in the world with the labyrinth the way Veriditas is.
Any purchase from Veriditas this spring will get Free shipping just enter word Veriditas
Also for Spring the balance of the Anniversary cube inventory is being sold for $18.00, but only to Veriditas shoppers, and $6.00 from each cube sold is going to Veriditas
Spring Special runs from 3/31 through June 20th.
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 2016 is Stability
"The world is beautiful outside where there is stability inside." -Unknown.
As wave is driven by wave
Picture/symbol: Sunrise (Photo by The Rev. Warren Lynn)
"Little Miracles" is produced by Linda Mikell. Each month she shares an inspirational story from a labyrinth experience that is sent to her by a facilitator. She welcomes YOUR story. I'm sure you're got one, and we all benefit from this sharing. Thank you, Linda!
Please send your story to Linda Mikell at firstname.lastname@example.org
Booklets are available online for
$10 each plus shipping.
Proceeds benefit the Veriditas scholarship fund.