Thank you so much to everyone who joined in the fun in this year's Annual Online Auction. We're delighted to announce that we raised over $15,000 through your participation.
Our thanks also to Jenny Slama, who did a fabulous job coordinating the auction. She will be working on letting you know where to ship your donated items in the next couple of weeks. If you won items, those will be in the mail soon!
We're delighted to announce that VIA: The Veriditas International Association of Professionally Trained Labyrinth Facilitators has launched!
Veriditas is best known for presenting the labyrinth as a spiritual tool, one that can be taken into many different settings and offered to many different populations.
After two decades of providing quality training for those who want to share the labyrinth with others, Veriditas has taken the next step. Facilitators stand at the heart of our organization and we have formed a professional association for our trained labyrinth facilitators. Labyrinth facilitators have taken the labyrinth with them into many professions, such as clergy and spiritual direction, counseling, teaching, wellness, health care, to name only a few. There is an emerging and defined body of knowledge around how to facilitate the labyrinth that needed to be recognized as a new and growing profession.
Whether you hold your labyrinth facilitation as an avocation or as a part of your professional work, you are invited to join us in this new endeavor that is designed to recognize your skill, empower you with a professional organization, and provide you with affiliation and a sense of belonging in a growing field.
VIA welcomes anyone who has completed the
Benefits of Membership
By Chris Farrow-Noble, Council Member
For this month of transition to fall and the breath-taking Hunter’s Moon, I introduce Luella Wagner, who lives and works in the Los Angeles, California area. She has had remarkable experiences with youth and the labyrinth and shares her story here in her own writing.
Did you find the labyrinth or did it find you?
I think the labyrinth knew I needed help and it miraculously showed up at exactly the right moment; so subtle, so unobtrusive, so stealth, I didn’t even know it was there. And magically its twists and turns led me on a new path to find my true purpose in life. As most life changing discoveries occur in the midst of sorrow, disappointment, and loss, my introduction to the labyrinth was no different. I had what I thought was my “dream job.” I was teaching history and drama at an all girls’ Catholic high school in Sierra Madre, California. I was also the director of the fall play and the spring musical. I received several positive write-ups in local newspapers and numerous grant awards. When my contract was not renewed, I was dumbfounded. Anyone who has lost a job knows the feeling of rejection, humiliation and trauma that goes with it. Mysteriously, “Praying the Labyrinth” by Jill Kimberly Hartwell Geoffrion with the Forward by Lauren Artress fell into my hands. The book combined a series of prayers followed by reflection questions. The reflection questions allowed me to go deep within and I was able to write down my true feelings and work through my loss and rejection.
How did your involvement with the youth begin?
I eventually landed a job teaching Religion at a Catholic co-ed high school closer to home. It wasn’t my dream job, but it would suffice. It was at Bishop Alemany High School that I found ways to introduce the labyrinth into the curriculum. It was the 60th anniversary of the invasion of Poland, so I did a lesson on St. Maximilian Kolbe, the Catholic priest who died at Auschwitz offering his life to spare someone else’s. I organized a field trip to St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in Thousand Oaks, CA. The church is newly built and the interior has architectural elements inspired by the concentration camp: barbed wire decorates the pews, Stations of the Cross and the altar. The church also has an outdoor labyrinth, which was the real reason for the trip. I had introduced the labyrinth in the classroom; incorporating sacred geometry, readings, prayers and activities, so the students had a basic understanding of the labyrinth before they walked it. At the church, the students walked the labyrinth with eagerness and sensitivity. I wanted to extend the experience to the entire school, so I contacted Holy Spirit Retreat Center in Encino and I was able to rent their canvas labyrinth and offer it to all the classes at Bishop Alemany High School. While I was proud of the work I had done at the school, it left me unfulfilled and I yearned for something new and different. Completely out of the blue I was offered a teaching position on an Indian reservation in Montana. And the labyrinth followed me there. I was amazed one day as I arrived at school in the dead of winter to find that someone had created a labyrinth in the snow. It was a gentle, sublte reminder to let me know I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I found out later that it was one of my students who created the “snow” labyrinth.
To say that my time in Montana was life changing is an understatement. When I returned to Los Angeles, I was no longer the same person I was when I left. I knew that my time in the classroom was over, so I looked for other opportunities. I ventured into the world of writing and public speaking. I presented workshops on a variety of topics until one day a friend of mine asked “Why don’t you offer a workshop on labyrinths?” That prompted me to go further into my understanding of the labyrinth. There is a Native American quote: “If you want to understand something, stand under it.” While I couldn’t stand under the labyrinth, I could stand on it and walk it. Fortunately, for me the Boy Scouts had installed a labyrinth at Prince of Peace Church in Woodland Hills, which was within walking distance from my home.
I took it upon myself to walk the labyrinth everyday seeking answers to questions, solutions to problems, and insight into the “why” of things. I walked the labyrinth in the early morning, late afternoon, twilight and midnight. I even walked it at dawn. While I never experienced any earth shattering revelations, I was amazed at the effect walking the labyrinth had on my daily activities. My work took on a clarity and vision that I had not experienced before. Mentally, I was able to look at things from a different perspective and see things I wouldn’t normally see. I began to see things symbolically as a metaphor for something larger. I compiled my findings into a workshop format and offered my presentation at various retreats and conferences throughout the Los Angeles area.
Please tell us about the Youth Rally and the labyrinth.
This past July, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles invited me to present the labyrinth at the “City of Saints” Youth Rally at UCLA. More than 700 teenagers were introduced to the labyrinth over the 3-day period. While the labyrinth was new to them, their respect and appreciation was evident as they walked the path. In the center of the labyrinth I placed a bowl with slips of paper each one containing the name of a saint, keeping with the theme of the rally. As they entered the center of the labyrinth, they each chose a slip of paper with a saint’s name. I told them to research the saint and see what special message that saint had for them. Christina Lamas, the National Youth Coordinator for the Catholic Church based in Washington D.C. was astounded by the positive response. Her remark was “This is exactly what we need to be doing for our young people.”
How did you find out about Veriditas?
The year after I lost my job, a friend invited me to San Francisco for a visit. I hadn’t been there in years, so I jumped at the opportunity. While there we visited Grace Cathedral and walked the labyrinth. Curious about finding labyrinths closer to home, I used the labyrinth locator that eventually linked me to the Veriditas website.
What is your primary work with the labyrinth right now?
For the past four years, I have presented workshops entitled “Understanding the Labyrinth” at the Santa Barbara, San Pedro, San Gabriel, San Fernando and Los Angeles Regional Congresses. In addition to the annual congresses, I offer labyrinth presentations for schools and parishes throughout the Los Angeles area. I continue to work with Holy Spirit Retreat Center where we offer quarterly labyrinth walks on the spring and fall equinoxes and the summer and winter solstices. We are currently raising funds to build a permanent labyrinth for the center.
Last summer, I sojourned to Petaluma and attended the facilitator training workshop. I completed the requirements and now I am a Veriditas Certified Labyrinth Facilitator.
What is your vision for your future labyrinth work?
I recently attended a retreat presented by Father Stephen Coffey, entitled “Sophia Wisdom in the Writings of John of the Cross”. I was astounded by the many similarities I found between walking the labyrinth and John’s process of spiritual development. While I am still in the beginning stages, I hope to incorporate the writings of John of the Cross, specifically the “Dark Night of the Soul” and the “Ascent on Mount Carmel” into my teachings on the labyrinth. The spiritual teachings of John of the Cross are taking me to a higher level of understanding and growth and I hope to share that with others. While the labyrinth is a flat surface on the ground, in some ways I see it as a spiral staircase leading me upward with every step I take. I hope to take others with me on that spiritual ascent.
When did you first encounter the labyrinth?
How did you get involved with Veriditas and Lauren?
Would you each share a story or experience around the Labyrinth?
What does the labyrinth mean to you?
Why are you Sustaining Givers to Veriditas?
iSpiritual is offering a 20% permanent discount for Veriditas.
Simply enter veriditas20.
The discount applies to everything on their site. Click here to shop.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Booklets are available online for
$10 each plus shipping.
Proceeds benefit the Veriditas scholarship fund.