February 2015


 

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 Veriditas at 20
 Donor Spotlight
 Facilitator Spotlight
 Global Healing Response
 Little Miracles on the Path
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Veriditas at 20


Dear Veriditas Community,

I am so honored and excited to be part of the committee that is organizing an amazing “Veriditas at 20” celebration on August 14-15 at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco!

Veriditas is coming home for the weekend! Grace Cathedral is where it all started twenty years ago. We’ve expanded our reach and moved our base, but it seems appropriate to return to our birthplace to celebrate the past two decades. We’ll have an opportunity to honor our founder, the Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress, hear tales of the past — some tall, some small — and discover the many activities and programs that are going on today. We’ll also have time to dream of our future community.

What better way for all of us to stay connected? We really hope you will join us to see old friends and make new ones, as we celebrate our past, honor our present, and dream our future.

I look forward to celebrating with you!





Lee Matthew
Veriditas Board Vice Chair
“Veriditas at 20” committee



Donor Spotlight

by Rita Canning, Development Coordinator

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?

Kathleen:
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??

Kathleen:
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.

In 2012 I knew that my life was about to change and one of the things that I wanted to incorporate into my life was to become a trained facilitator. This past November, I was finally able to take Facilitator Training from Lauren in Cleveland. Since that time in Cleveland with Lauren, I’ve spent some time scripting some labyrinth events I’d like to facilitate. Unfortunately all of the labyrinths in my area are outdoors. So I have to wait until the spring when the snow melts before I can start running any workshops or labyrinth events.  Because there are just so few that are available in my area, I’m also hoping to buy a canvas labyrinth in the near future so that I can take it to places like hospitals, schools and churches and introduce it to them.  It is my goal is to be certified before this coming November.  Facilitating is where my passion is.


 




Rita:
Are there any other stories you’d like to share with us?

Kathleen:
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!
   
Also, the day before my son’s wedding I walked the finished labyrinth alone and it was so clear to me the whole time I was walking that I was rebirthing him and letting him go to be with his new life partner. I wept and laughed and wept and laughed the whole time I was walking. It’s such a transformational tool and I’m so grateful that it was at my disposal during that wonderful week. One of the things I also find incredibly powerful is to watch people walk the labyrinth.  So during that week, and the weeks after, when friends and family walked the labyrinth, I just watched. It reminded me greatly of my first pilgrimage when there were many faith traditions present on the labyrinth – Buddhists, Southern Baptists, Jews, Catholics,….to just name a few. Watching them all on the labyrinth at the same time was, for me, a beautiful metaphor of how we all can, and should, be living together on this earth, in peace with and making way for each other. I live with that memory daily and being able to watch my family and friends do the same thing was pretty powerful.

Rita: Why do you donate to Veriditas?

Kathleen:
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.



Facilitator Spotlight: Maia Scott

By Chris Farrow-Noble, Council Member

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. 
I decided to do it, signed up for a Grace Cathedral pilgrimage, and then completed the training there.  A few years later, I went to Chartres during a week with John O’ Donohue.

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.
 
I envisioned a labyrinth with rope and webbing defining the fields, so walkers can feel with their bodies where the path leads them.  Robert Ferre created my nylon, 7-circuit Classic labyrinth with its fewer twists and turns, 15’ in diameter.  I took it to a local sail maker who sewed on the webbing and rope.  Both visually impaired and sighted people experience it more fully when blindfolded.  I like to stand at the entrance, watching people walk it, mind and body vying to be heard as they try to navigate the turns. I call my Tactile Labyrinth an in-sight labyrinth.



My Hand Labyrinth invites participants to move and express themselves playfully on the labyrinth.  I like to find ways for people to interact with the labyrinth itself or with something related to the walk.   Initially I created a labyrinth with the outlines of the paths made of 800 white cut-outs of my hand labyrinth.  I invited walkers to trace their own hand to create a cut-out on colored paper and replace one of my hand labyrinths with the imprint of their hand.  Interesting but not surprising to me, many chose to place their hand in or near the center.  I also use this hand labyrinth as a place with permission to move, dance and prance around on the labyrinth. (I don't know that I do this, it just happens and I can't help but let it.)

One vivid lesson came while I was creating the hand labyrinth.  I brought the copies and scissors to work, and co-workers, family, and friends  volunteered to help cut out the hands.  Within two and a half weeks, we had 800 little hand labyrinths made from my hands --- ready for the labyrinth.  It was an unexpected community effort.


  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. 

That reminds me of one Friday in Chartres Cathedral when people were allowed to walk the labyrinth.  I was aware that many visitors didn’t see the labyrinth on the floor and walked directly across the pattern. I was walking the labyrinth with Tessa, and a woman came up to me and asked if she could help me find a seat. I replied in my basic French, “No, I’m fine.” A nearby photographer then responded in much better French, “Oh, no, no.  She is on the path.”

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.  

One of the most challenging experiences with the labyrinth came at Grace Cathedral.  I was there to help facilitate a labyrinth walk during grace after hours, and nearly 200 people showed up.  I had difficulty knowing when people were making that second to last switchback just before they were ready to come off the labyrinth. People would move me, saying, “You should stand here,” and someone else would move me, saying, “No, you should stand here.”

In this situation and others, I wanted to make everyone happy, but I realized I was still learning that I couldn’t make everyone happy. I understand that people do things in their own way.  The labyrinth is a gentle life teacher of symbolism and metaphors.



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.

As part of the set for this performance, we are using a simple three-circuit Roman style labyrinth that I created in school.  It is made of  drop cloths and primer; Velcros together with an eight-foot square middle; and is designed to go around a tree, pole or alter.  Usually my mom offers her hand and support with my crazy projects, like cutting out lots of those hands for the hand labyrinth.  My dad and I worked on this labyrinth in the garage -- dad on his hands and knees with an old piece of rain gutter and a two by four to make the lines.  I'm realizing the strength of his presence in this project.  Not only did he inspire the work I get to share, he helped make it.

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.




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 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.
 

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.



Has the Labyrinth changed your life? Tell us your story...


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!





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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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