Did you find the labyrinth or did it find you?
It was a combination of both. My dad died in 2000. Around that time my wife Cathie attended a women’s conference where she experienced walking the labyrinth and brought back Lauren’s book, Walking A Sacred Path. A year later, while I was still working through my dad’s death, we were in San Francisco and planned to walk the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral. I felt a great cloud of energy around me while I walked it. I didn’t feel alone; my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were with me as witnesses. Grief and healing found me there. I sensed the larger universe, far beyond my own narrow space. We walked the labyrinth at least once a day for those four days.
Picture of Paul Campbell and his lovely bride, Cathie Bishop.
How did you first encounter Veriditas?
At that first walking of the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral, I picked up brochures, but it took us four years to find a place in our lives and the money to pay for the training. I was working at a truck dealership at the time. Cathie and I were committed to continuing hand-in-hand on our spiritual journey; we both wanted to have our facilitator training at Grace. When Veriditas called me, I was surprised to hear Lauren’s voice. We spoke about our coming to the qualifying workshop and staying afterwards for the training.
How did you find the labyrinth to be helpful with 12-step programs?
I truly believe there are no coincidences in life. At the facilitator training, I sat next to a man who was also in a 12-step program. We talked about ways to use the labyrinth in our lives and began to explore the possibility of integrating 12-step programs and the labyrinth. I could immediately envision the labyrinth as part of my spiritual journey, as described in Step 11: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”
How did you first introduce the integration of the labyrinth and the 12-step program?
I was fortunate to already own a canvas labyrinth in Iowa, so shortly after our training, I started doing workshops toward my certification. We had 12-step meetings at our church; Cathie led walks at women’s retreats, and I offered walks at men’s retreats. I was aware that the first three steps in the 12-step program aligned well with the three intentions – the three Rs of Release, Receive, and Return -- of walking the labyrinth. We have prayers associated with each step in the Program, although we sometimes leave them out.
Are you currently involved in labyrinth work that is integrated with 12-step programs?
No, for the last four years I haven’t been as involved with that work. Our lives have changed with Cathie studying for and becoming an ordained minister and our move to Fargo for her accepting a called minister position.
For several years we set-up one of our canvas labyrinths at the two local hospitals during Spiritual Care Week. Gave staff an opportunity to learn about the labyrinth and ways it can be used in hospital settings
What is your current involvement with the labyrinth community?
Since my permanent move to Fargo at the end of September, I’m aware that I am now in an area without any established labyrinths or labyrinth community. I want to share this spiritual tool and build another community similar to what I had before, although, of course, it will reflect our new location. I plan to introduce our 24’ Chartres 7-circuit canvas labyrinth during Lent in the Presbyterian church where I am serving. I have used the labyrinth as a place to experience the Stations of the Cross, adding objects at various stations to stimulate other senses, such as salt water as tears and a cross to carry. I’m comfortable integrating spiritual paths and pulling things from other traditions. I also feel the tug toward the sacred geometry and sacred numbers involved in building labyrinths. I was inspired to take a course from Robert Ferre on designing and building labyrinths. I also remember the fun of working with a community of people at a church camp, building one. Perhaps we can create one here in Fargo.
How has the labyrinth been a part of your personal and professional life?
The labyrinth has truly enriched my spiritual growth and quieted me. I used to have “monkey mind,” but I don’t any more. I often walk a labyrinth to help in discernment when I am working through something, including writing a sermon. In the moments of struggling, I can ask, “Where am I? What’s on my mind? Where is my higher power calling me?” Whether I am walking as an individual or with a group, the labyrinth offers a metaphor of wherever I’m at. If I am distracted, that is part of my story at that time.
My last employment was working as a chaplain in a Sioux City, Iowa hospital. For the past several years I was able to set up one of our canvas labyrinths at the two hospitals in Sioux City during Spiritual Care week. I enjoyed bringing the experience and explaining the benefits of the labyrinth to the local hospitals management and staff.
What is your greatest challenge at this time in your life?
I have lost so much connection and community in our move. I no longer have a spiritual director, a mentor group, or a sponsor. I am unable to walk into a nearby church and walk a labyrinth. The labyrinth was such an easy, accessible resource tool in Sioux City, and I am deeply missing having one to walk.
Please share a profound experience with the labyrinth.
One of my most spiritual paths with labyrinths was when Cathie and I were asked to draw a Labyrinth for the Methodist church in Sturgis, South Dakota. They were installing a memorial garden. We drew the pattern on the concrete pad, and volunteers from the church ended up painting it. When I arrived, I asked which way they wanted the opening to face. If they used the symbolism of facing the liturgical east, walkers would have been looking at the motorcycle racetrack when they entered. The labyrinth answered where it wanted the opening. We aligned the entrance path facing down the creek of the park. Afterwards a local resident informed me that on the other side of the hill that the opening pointed to, was Bear Butte, which is a sacred site for the Lakota Sioux Native Americans. The labyrinth continues to teach and guide me.
What are your visions or hopes for your labyrinth work in the future?
During our Labyrinth Renewal Day and Council meeting in October, I was so impressed by the Seeds of Hope Living Labyrinth, which is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles (seedsofhope.ladiocese.org). This may be my next calling. I see it as another opportunity to bring the labyrinth to people who haven’t had something so accessible to them. I would like to look into getting a grant to build a garden labyrinth to grow fresh food and produce on under-used church property. It has such potential as a way to feed the hungry and welcome new Americans. Here’s a beginning guiding thought:
“The Sole of your shoe
We're delighted to announce that Diana Stork and Portia Diwa have just released their brand new CD titled, "Music from the Labyrinth: From Chartres to Grace." We've played it here in our office (several times) and all agree that its a particularly beautiful collection of their heart felt life's work. Special introductory price of $20 during November, then $25.
Stock is limited.
For the first time ever, we're offering a Veriditas wall calendar featuring quotes from Lauren Artress' book, "Walking a Sacred Path" alongside images created for Veriditas by Anne Bull. Calendar is 17" x 11" when open and 8.5" x 11" closed. Includes religious holidays and observances as well as phases of the moon. $18 per calendar. Stock is limited.
When did you first encounter the labyrinth?
In 1996 or 1997 I was a student in seminary at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta. One day a friend brought a portable labyrinth to one of our big meeting rooms. This was the first time I’d ever seen a labyrinth and didn’t even know the difference between a labyrinth and a maze. It was an eleven circuit Chartres labyrinth and I was absolutely taken with it and wanted to experience for myself what the labyrinth had to offer. My friend did a wonderful presentation on it which inspired me to experience it even more. It was stunning! After that, and over time, I took advantage of any opportunities to walk the labyrinth when they came my way.
How did you get involved with Veriditas and Lauren?
I was a big fan of Barbara Brown Taylor. I had been a student of hers in the past and felt that if I could continue to be her student that I would absolutely love that. In 2009 I discovered online that she was leading an event with the Veriditas pilgrimage at Chartres. So, I decided to take a trip with my daughters Kathleen and Gretchen to the Chartres Pilgrimage at the end of May. This was when I first became acquainted with the incredible labyrinth at the Cathedral there. At that time Kathleen didn’t even know what a labyrinth was. Now she is a Veriditas Board Member. She didn’t know Barbara or what a labyrinth was and had never been outside the US. Gretchen had traveled more widely than Kathleen but also knew nothing about labyrinths. For Kathleen it was a life transforming experience.
This was my first time meeting Lauren and I was captivated by the whole event. It was amazing to me. During Lauren’s introduction and her sharing information on the labyrinth, she made it sound like something you can’t miss, something you just have to be part of. It was all so enticing. It wooed me and it wooed Kathleen and Gretchen. At night when the Cathedral was closed we all went in and toured the crypt. The whole thing is about birth. The pinnacle of it all was going upstairs into the nave of the church and walking this incredible labyrinth. Each one of the lunations has a candle on it and a small chamber orchestra played medieval style music for us as we walked. It was an ethereal experience. It was one of those moments where you felt as if you were in some parallel universe. It was quite wonderful. And then in 2012 Kathleen and I returned to Chartres.
Would you share a story or experience of the labyrinth with us?
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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.
“Today I want to feel the release of fully letting go of those things I cannot change. May today feel lighter and more joyful as a result.” —Shawn Fink
Picture/symbol: Calm Water (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 email@example.com
Booklets are available online for
$10 each plus shipping.
Proceeds benefit the Veriditas scholarship fund.