| Veriditas at 20
Global Healing Response
Little Miracles on the Path
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For February I had the joy of interviewing Kathleen Pilus, who is a trained Facilitator and enthusiastic Veriditas supporter. She is currently working on her Facilitator certification and is a Sustaining Giver with a beautiful labyrinth on her property in Walden, New York.
Rita: How did you get involved with the labyrinth and Veriditas?
I was first introduced to both in 2009 when my mother, sister and I took the Pilgrimage to Chartres. It was a trip that my mother wanted to take and my father insisted that they pay for my sister and me to go with her. Spending the week with Lauren, Barbara Brown Taylor and Alan Jones was amazing and a wonderful preparation for walking, what I call, “the mother labyrinth”. I wasn’t prepared, however, for the sacred experience of walking into the cathedral, following the candle lights down into the chapel, through the crypt and up into the sanctuary. It was quite amazing. I really had no idea what I was about to experience; no idea of what a life changing event it would be for me. My life hasn’t been the same since and I can’t imagine a day without a labyrinth. Before that week, for example, I don’t think I knew how to find time for stillness and quiet or why they are so important. The labyrinth experience became even more profound for me when I went on a second pilgrimage to Chartres in 2012, again with my mom who is also a Veriditas supporter.
Rita: Will you talk about your inspiration for and work with the labyrinth??
After our pilgrimages, both my mother and I decided we would love to have labyrinths on our properties. During the summer of 2014, my mother had one designed and built at her home by my father, who just happens to be an engineer. This past October, they both travelled to my home for my oldest son’s wedding, which my mother, who is an ordained minister, would be officiating at. During the week prior to the wedding, my father’s gift to me was to build a labyrinth on my property. Just talking about it makes me want to cry. It was an emotionally powerful week for me to have all of my family here. It was a wonderful and incredibly memorable time and I don’t know how I’ll ever thank my father for what he did. He paid for the materials, laid it all out and constructed it by himself…well mostly by himself. All we had to do beforehand was clear the property. It’s a good thing that he’s a young 79 and an engineer to boot.
Rita: Are there any other stories you’d like to share with us?
During my second Chartres pilgrimage in September 2012 it was so sweet to be back and do the morning work with Lauren and spend the week in such a magical town. Unlike the first time in Chartres, where I waited to walk the labyrinth until the actual Veriditas walk happened, this time I was able to walk it a bunch, even before we had our scheduled walk. And every time I walked the labyrinth, whether it was the one in the Cathedral or the one behind the monastery I found myself crying. It became clear that my tears were because I was mourning the knowing that it was time for me to leave the business that I helped start 23 years earlier. I was really burnt out and my health was paying a serious price. Walking the labyrinth allowed me to grieve enough so that I was ready to get into some counseling when I got back to prepare for this ending. It was just about a year after that pilgrimage to Chartres that I was finally able to leave the company. I have found that it’s a little hard to ignore the messages on the labyrinth!Rita: Why do you donate to Veriditas?
At the dinner after my first pilgrimage in 2009 we were asked to consider donating to Veriditas. I was so deeply moved from my experience at Chartres that week that I made the decision then to be a donor. I find it incredibly important work. With the unrest in the world and the stress that we all live with, I wholeheartedly support the Veriditas mission and want to see this incredible ancient tool be reintroduced to the world. I want to be a part of this transformational journey.
This month I reach across the country to Maia Scott in San Francisco. I first met Maia on the 3-hour nighttime pilgrimage at the 2010 TLS Gathering in New Harmony. Over fifteen years ago, she came to SF for a recreational therapist internship, drawn by the rich small venue arts community, the public transit system, and a good bit of family. She has called it home ever since.
Did you find the labyrinth or did it find you?
My first thought is that we were bound on an inevitable collusion course. A coworker invited someone to facilitate a labyrinth walk for our theater program participants. I remember the walk well with the lights turned down low and the circling, spiral movements of the walkers. As a staff member, I was trying to stay out of everyone’s way and would jump off the path to let others go by. I was very frustrated not to be able to get to the middle. I remember asking “Why? Why do I have to take longer to do things?” I realized that more time seeking the center wasn’t a bad thing because I got to be on the labyrinth longer. So as in life, I can do this but I will be there longer. The journey was a reward for me, and I set out to learn more about the labyrinth.
How did you link up with Veriditas?
About a decade ago, a co-worker brought a Veriditas flyer about the certification process.
What do you consider a primary focus in your work with the labyrinth?
I believe my niche relates to integrating the mind and body connection, including spirit. Since I can’t rely on my vision to help me walk a labyrinth, I have been drawn to tactile surfaces and materials. I considered it a problem-solving challenge. The mind and body aspect is noticeable when people are walking blindfolded and their minds get in the way of what their bodies want to do, which is usually right. I do rely on my vision a lot when walking the labyrinth and, in fact, labyrinth walking may have stilled my eye movement over the years.
|You have an extraordinary relationship with your dog. Can you tell us about that?
All of my guide dogs – Selma, Tessa, and now Fiddler -- have been very patient with me around the labyrinth. Guide dogs are trained to walk in a straight line, finding the shortest distance between points, and informing me when to stop. They aren't supposed to tell me when to go, though they sometimes try to second-guess me. With a labyrinth, I am repeatedly walking in circles, and they have had to learn to tolerate this.
How has the challenge of impaired vision affected your work with the labyrinth?
Its challenge is part of why I am drawn to the labyrinth. It began as my own handy-dandy pity party when I first encountered the labyrinth. Not exactly a love-hate relationship, but hate and failure can lead to opportunities to find love.
So you do have some vision?
Yes, I can see shapes and color, but not details, depth, or distance. It’s somewhat like seeing an impressionistic painting.
You have so many avenues of creative expression. What are you involved in now?
At this moment, I am on a bus going to a rehearsal for a performance directed by local choreographer Krista de Nio. She invited veterans and families of veterans to create an interdisciplinary performance from their stories and ideas around the military and war. I wanted to participate with this group and had a desire to talk with my dad about his experience in Vietnam. I began writing memories of stories I had heard him tell over the years and realized I was seeing my father in a new light. At almost 44, I am twice the age that he was in Vietnam. I also realize that I could be his mother at this age. I was so irate, so boiling to think of this young man put in these circumstances. I call my collection of stories, “Cauldron,“ representing that boiling in my belly. I am performing this text and movement backed by five other women. The performance includes both men and women and will happen this coming final weekend in February at California Institute of Integral Studies.What are your inspirations for your future work with the labyrinth?
I often find myself drawing and creating labyrinths of all types. I am constantly searching for ways to create more opportunities for interaction with the labyrinth. Prompted by my MFA Advisor, I want to experiment with taking the essence of the labyrinth and making non-labyrinth installations that inspire people to move through space in particular ways.
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 2015 is Restoration “All the beauty that’s been lost before wants to find us again” ― U2. The focus for this quarter is Reflection (Self and World). Quote: I believe that our society is merely a reflection of what is going on inside each and every one of us —Seal.
By focusing on Reflection (Self and World) this quarter perhaps we will find strength and creative ideas for implementing Restoration. Thank you for joining us and creating a circle of global healing with the labyrinth! —Ellen Bintz Meuch
Take a look at GHR's beautiful new website: www.globalhealingresponse.com. We encourage you to visit the site soon and often.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Please don’t forget to send your story when you have one. Little Miracles are archived on the Facilitators Portal of the Veriditas Website.
We are gathering your stories of how the labyrinth has changed you or your life. These stories will be shared on our website in the months leading up to our celebration, and in a book celebrating Veriditas' 20th Birthday. To submit your story for inclusion, please click here. Thank you for being a part of our Veriditas Family!