The Tapestry Labyrinth arrives at Grace Cathedral - 1994.
Its not too late to register for our Anniversary Celebration this August. Come help us celebrate 20 years on the Path, and journey with us through our
Did you find the labyrinth or did it find you?
I feel like the labyrinth was in my world before I knew what it was. I bought a decal of a classical labyrinth back in the 70s and have had it over my bathroom sink ever since. I liked the circular design symbolizing life as a path. In the early 1990s, I walked a taped design on a hardwood auditorium floor without knowing what it was. That was one of my first experiences of the labyrinth as a symbol of wholeness in our broken times.
When you heard about the open position at Veriditas, what did you feel that position might offer you?
I spent 23 years working in County government while I raised my two children and worked my way through graduate school for my doctorate degree. I had the intention to move into a second career as a professor when the Veriditas opportunity came along. I had attended a Women’s Dream Quest led by Judith Tripp while going through a painful divorce. I found the labyrinth grounded my grief, and the Cathedral contained it. Judith called and encouraged me to apply for the Executive Director position in September 2006. My first interview was with Gary Petersen as the Board chair. I felt deep resonance with Gary. We had great simpatico around Margaret Wheatley’s work on emergent order as well as how to manage budgets in local government. My second interview was with Lauren. She asked me what I was looking for, and I answered, “I am looking for work that is creative and spiritual.” Lauren’s quick response was, “Have I got a job for you!” I started on a very part-time basis for six months while I finished up commitments at my County job and began fuller Veriditas employment at 70% time in May 2007.
What did you feel you might offer Veriditas?
In addition to a deep understanding of the nature of our work, I brought my organizational ability to hold a broad scope of activity. Initially my goals were to shore up the administrative core of Veriditas. With my professional and educational background, it felt like a great fit.
What has been the most challenging part of your work/position?
The vision of our work -- to transform the human spirit through the labyrinth experience -- is a big, ambitious one. Given the state of our world, there is urgency in our times to accomplish everything as quickly as possible. We are all here in service of a larger vision, and grounding that vision in the world of business has been challenging at times. We who are Veriditas have a passion about the work we do, and bringing individual passionate voices together in service of a collective goal is a great yet very worthy challenge.
What feeds or nurtures you and/or your soul in your work?
Dawn and Lauren in France
Is there a part of you that you would like to integrate more fully into your work?
One goal of mine is to be able to bring more of my teaching self to Veriditas. I really had fun with the webinars that Lauren and I did together on “Synchronicity and the Labyrinth” and, most recently, “Taking Dreams to the Labyrinth,” which, as you know, is another passion of mine.
The demands on your time seem endless. How are you able to keep a balance between your work and personal life?
Because I am passionate about what we do and want to do a good job, it is challenging to keep a work-life balance. There is always so much work to be done. Finding a balance is an ongoing goal. I have an amazing husband, wonderful adult children, great friends, and three cats. They all help me keep the balance.
What do you consider to be your most significant contribution to Veriditas over these past eight years?
Since I came on in 2007, so many things have improved and grown. My role has been as a steward to this process. Everything has been collectively accomplished by our Founder, our Staff, our Master Teachers, our Board, our Council, and our Volunteers working together in service of the labyrinth.
Chartres and Facilitator Trainings are two unique, excellent quality programs that define Veriditas. Program evaluations reflect excellence in our programming. The Facilitator Training Manual has gone from a few handouts to a professional manual. The Master Teacher Program was launched and continues so that others are doing the teaching work that Lauren began. A Facilitator Subscription Program was developed, along with a Webinar series. A Facilitator Training Scholarship Program was begun, enabling us to train folks with a financial need who will bring the labyrinth to underserved populations. An Advanced Facilitator Training was developed. A Labyrinth Construction Class was added and built into a Labyrinth Summer School Program.
In 2009 we moved from the small office in the Presidio to offices on a 200-acre retreat center owned by the Institute of Noetic Sciences. On the Spring Solstice that year, the Board and Council together created our home labyrinth, so aptly named the Deer Heart Labyrinth.
Our small staff is stable, talented, dedicated, and productive. The website continues to evolve with more and more functionality. The overall look of all Veriditas materials has improved. Event marketing has become more strategic with a Marketing Plan. A more comprehensive database has been created to consolidate several different systems used to track program registrations and donors. Certification Amnesty was implemented and has brought back facilitators to the Veriditas community. A “Veriditas-Approved” Qualifying Workshop Program with Advanced Trained Facilitators offering programming is just beginning.
The Legacy Labyrinth Project began at first as a fundraiser and has evolved into an ongoing program to bring and connect more labyrinths into the world that are dedicated to healing. Two Legacy Labyrinths have been completed in La Falda, Argentina and Jacksonville Beach, Florida, with a third under construction this month at Ohio Wesleyan University scheduled to be dedicated in October 2015. And, we’ve begun to hold Veriditas programs at our Legacy Labyrinth sites. The first Veriditas Men’s Retreat was held in Argentina this year.
In 2010, we launched the Sustaining Giving Program to help stabilize our cash flow. We have a strong base of loyal, long-time donors. The revenue and expenses are well managed. We survived in some of the most difficult economic times when nearly a quarter of all non-profits closed or merged.
We are initiating more international outreach. For example, the Facilitator Manual was translated into Spanish, and a first Facilitator Training was offered in Argentina with a Spanish translator. The Dream Quest has gone to Poland and this year, is going to Australia.
And so much more ….
It is amazing what a group of people working collectively can accomplish.
Veriditas Staff, left to right: Pam Cole, Rita Canning, Dawn Matheny, Kathleen Stewart and Anne Bull
What do you envision for Veriditas in the years ahead?
We are working on several very exciting ventures. We are creating a catalog of Veriditas offerings that maps out learning pathways for those interested in using the labyrinth for individual growth and for those interested in bringing the labyrinth to others. We are developing on-line and new classes. We hope to be able to broaden our Facilitator Subscription Program into an international professional membership group of labyrinth facilitators. In addition, efforts are underway to deepen and augment the pilgrimage experiences that Veriditas offers. Global Healing Project has plans to expand. Watch for more about this in the year ahead. So much is cooking!!! So many visions for the future – all in service to the labyrinth.
Can you tell us about a profound experience that you've had (or that you've witnessed) with Veriditas and/or the labyrinth?
I have had many powerful labyrinth experiences over the years. For me, it is a place of self-reflection and guidance where I can hear “the small still voice within.” It is always a grounding experience. I’ve done dream work on the labyrinth as well.
In my role of stewarding Veriditas, I am privy to the powerful testimonials people give us. Knowing that the work we are doing is changing people’s lives feeds my soul.
When did you first encounter the labyrinth?
It’s been at least 15 years. My first introduction was by a friend. We were in Ireland together and she asked me if I had ever walked a labyrinth. I said that I didn’t even know what a labyrinth was. So, after talking to her, I got very intrigued and we both decided to build a labyrinth. So, we built our first labyrinth which was in Ireland. It was a very confusing, complicated and rewarding experience. We built a 7 circuit labyrinth in a grass field out of Liscannor stones, which are ancient old stones that have little worms in them.
How did you get involved with Lauren Artress and Veriditas?
After building that labyrinth in Ireland, I got very inspired to build one in New Orleans, where I live. I began to connect with Lauren Artress around the time I started that labyrinth in Audubon Park. Lauren had come to New Orleans to Trinity Episcopal Church to do a labyrinth workshop. We connected and the higher forces that connected us gave us the power to do this amazing public space in New Orleans. This labyrinth was the very first thing that was built in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. So, we are about to celebrate our 10th anniversary of Katrina. We must have worked for a good eight to ten months on the project before it became a reality. We had this architect, Marty Kermeen, who came and committed to building the labyrinth. Before Hurricane Katrina, it was all prepared and ready to go. We had done the planning, the fundraising (through The Friends of The Labyrinth at Audubon Park), the permitting and all of the footwork. We were all set to go and were actually going to begin building on a Monday. The Saturday-Sunday before that, Katrina hit. So the project was postponed until everyone could get their feet back on the ground. About a month and a half later it was completed. It was the first thing built in the city after Katrina. It was very exciting! And it was dedicated to the rebuilding of the city of New Orleans. It was on a Divine schedule.
I love my relationship with Lauren. She has been such an inspiration to me. And I love my labyrinth involvement which has been life changing for me. What I love about labyrinths is building them. I’ve built labyrinths out of seaweed on the beaches of Florida, I’ve built then out of azaleas and other flowers, I’ve built them out of twigs. I’m just very moved by building labyrinths. I guess for me what the labyrinth does is center me to the earth. It gives me that grounding.
I feel like every center of the labyrinth is the center of the universe, a very deep connecting point. On my spiritual journey I was just floating around a little in my Holy Spirit spirituality. Then the labyrinth came into my life and connected me to the earth. So I have really sought to be at the Chartres retreats. It’s very moving to me to just be in that space, to be learning, to be growing with Lauren’s instruction. It’s been very rewarding. I consider the labyrinth to be a very important tool for my soul, in my energetic world and in my spiritual world.
Why do you donate to Veriditas?
I just believe that it’s important to support Lauren’s work and mission to cover the earth with labyrinths. It’s just something I feel very strongly about. I will always support the labyrinth work. I just think that’s she’s been an extraordinary leader. She rediscovered and reintroduced the labyrinth and brought so many of us to this wonderful tool. I feel very fortunate to be able to contribute.
Ispiritual Labyrinths, the proud product partner of Veriditas, is offering an anniversary Special Edition item for Presale, its a special because there are only going to be 100 made and they are being offered for only $59.00.
If you pick them up during Veriditas's celebration there will be no shipping cost and you will become a part of our history. Ispiritual is setting up to take orders immediately but they will not be filled until the Anniversary Celebration on August 14-15.
All proceeds of this product after costs are being given to Veriditas and there is a limit of 1 per customer.
When you go to ispiritual.com go to VERIDITAS, there you will find Veriditas anniversary labyrinth cube, order it and put in where the coupon area is: anniversary 20. Your order will be processed without shipping and held until the anniversary.
We are looking forward to connecting with you all at the celebration!