Deep, heartfelt thanks to our donors for giving to
the Veriditas Year End Campaign. We met our goal!
Facilitator Spotlight: Di Williams
By Chris Farrow-Noble, Council Member
We want to take this opportunity to honour Di Williams, Veriditas Master Teacher in the UK and Ireland, as she moves into retirement.
Did you find the labyrinth or did it find you?
I believe it was both. I saw my first labyrinth on the coast of South Wales down below me as I was photographing along the edge of a cliff. I was drawn to its shape and inherent beauty and wanted to photograph it. I went down the cliff and danced it. It was a classical labyrinth with its path of sand cut into grass and ocean stones. It is no longer there, most probably erased by high water since it was in an estuary. The second labyrinth I walked, a Chartres style labyrinth which now lies under the foundations of a building on the campus of the University of Cumbria in Lancaster, provided a container for a deep reflection that changed my life radically.
How did you encounter Veriditas?
Several years later, in 2000, I was a Chaplain, serving many faiths at the University of Edinburgh and believing that each person was on a unique and authentic spiritual journey. I realised it would be important to offer varied resources to compliment the more cognitive academic focus on learning within the university. In 2001, I was on holiday in San Francisco and visited Grace Cathedral. I was totally captivated by the labyrinths and picked up a brochure with words from Lauren Artress, articulating this concept about individuals engaging in their own authentic spiritual journey. I remembered my second labyrinth walk and realised it had already given birth to my passion in wanting to grow possibilities for others to experience their own invaluable experience of the holding and sometimes challenging, transforming and healing quality of walking the labyrinth path. I returned to Edinburgh to develop a project to incorporate the labyrinth, and the following year the University sent me back to San Francisco to be trained as a facilitator. On my desk upon my return was a check for a canvas labyrinth to be made by Veriditas! In 2005, we completed a permanent stone-paved labyrinth in 18th century gardens at the heart of the University campus.
How has the labyrinth linked together with your work as an Anglican Priest?
I feel there has been a great overlap and integrity of focus. I have often considered myself to be ministering on the edge. Instead of working within a specific gathered church, I have primarily worked either in diocesan adult development or adult education and pastoral chaplaincy ministry within an inclusive, ecumenical and multi faith context. My work has always been inclusive and non directive in ethos. Holding sacred space in which others can connect with their own inner spirituality has always been a strong thread in my understanding of priestly ministry.
Previously, in my Higher Education Chaplaincy ministry in Lancaster University, I had developed a complimentary care centre through which students could receive different types of body therapy at a reduced cost. As a massage practitioner myself, and priest, I explored by my praxis the importance of embodied spirituality. Through this physical practice I was able to hold the sacredness of the work and person and help a client connect with their often deepest needs. When I took up the post of Chaplain to the University of Edinburgh, finding the labyrinth offered a new and timely avenue for this ongoing exploration and ministry of holding sacred space on behalf of others.
What was your pathway to becoming one of the three Veriditas Master Teachers?
In 2006 I completed the first Advanced Facilitator Training program and between 2008-2010 apprenticed to Lauren Artress during Facilitator Training events in Chartres. In 2010, Veriditas launched me as the Master Teacher for the UK and Ireland.
How would you describe your work as the Master Teacher in the UK and Ireland?
I was very keen and determined to take labyrinth training right across the UK (England, Scotland, and Wales) and Ireland. But first I had to travel to many places to locate potential sites and community. Only then could I get to the back office work of setting up training. Someone wisely commented that it takes three days work for each day of training. Sometimes that has felt closer to three months! Yet I have felt called to offer this work and have been fortunate to have had the time and wherewithal to do so.
My two Veriditas Training sessions a year (eleven in total) for these past six years have given me great joy. I believe the subsequent and remarkable growth in trained facilitators has helped to bring about a greater general consciousness of the labyrinth in the UK & Ireland. I recall that 5-10 years ago, some pockets of particular academic and practical interest existed around key labyrinth experts, such as Jeff and Kimberly Saward and Sig Lonegren. Now, with the expanded facilitator network, and a growth in UK authors writing about the labyrinth, we have witnessed a considerable development of the labyrinth community. I have been a part of a sustaining program, and we have begun to see things grow.
Have you had ongoing contact with the other Master Teachers, Kay Mutert and Jo Ann Mast?
Sadly, the pond has really divided us! We meet rarely and my work over here has been through individual initiative. Perhaps there might be room for greater collaboration in future years?
What steps do you envision that would help continue the growth of labyrinth work in the UK?
It has been so helpful to me to have trained facilitators as back-up support during training events. I have been able to offer hands-on mentoring which I hope will be empowering to potential future master teachers. It is always a challenge to manage the content material and educative process in the time available; local facilitators have been able to help with logistics and personal needs of the participants.
In my opinion, it is necessary to have one or two Master Teachers in the UK. During these first six years, one has been sufficient, but now we are aware of the back work that needs to be done to grow the labyrinth culture. We have a newsletter that goes out four times a year with information about training, activities, facilitator’s events, UK books, and other resources. We don’t want to lose our momentum.
Are you retiring from being an Anglican Priest as well as from being a Veriditas Master Teacher?
First, it’s important to understand that I will always be an Anglican Priest since I took vows, made a deep commitment, and am a part of an order. However, I have come to that age and moment when I have received my state pension and am retiring from working in a specific diocese. I will see what calls to me in my new place of living.
Secondly, yes, I am retiring as a Veriditas Master Teacher. In this past year in Scotland, and with the spacious luxury of a travelling time around the world, I have been able to take stock of my life and options. Now is a time for letting go. My partner and I are moving to a small stone cottage in Kettlewell, a 300-person village in the Yorkshire Dales, England. We are culling our belongings in Edinburgh and plan to arrive in Kettlewell on February 24th. There, with time and openness, I will be able to sense how life might evolve. I spent my mid twenties on a community near by and throughout my life have felt this area to be the land that makes my soul sing. There is a lovely circling in all of this. In 2005 I took a group from the University of Edinburgh to build a classical limestone labyrinth just 20 minutes from where I will soon be living. It will be a joy to walk it amidst the beauty and stillness.
What words of wisdom would you offer to new or experienced people with the labyrinth?
I would urge each person to be totally open to what is possible with the labyrinth. What do you hear? What do you intuit? If you have a potential to go somewhere with the labyrinth, stay loyal to that vision, to that journey. Everyone’s spiritual centre is different. I’ve found it’s best to stay faithful to what moves our inner lives, rather than to try to drive our way forward. Where might you go with the labyrinth? Don’t give up, ever.
Our heartfelt gratitude to Di for her years of wonderful service in support of Veriditas and the Labyrinth!
We're delighted to announce the launch of our first free online class! "Introduction to the Labyrinth with Lauren Artress" This is a really great overview for those who are curious about the labyrinth - lectures included are:
The class takes less than 20 minutes to complete and Includes printable finger labyrinth and guidelines for walking the labyrinth. Please feel free to share the link with anyone who might be interested.
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.
NOW $12 per calendar while stocks last!
In 1997 or 1998, I was working with a team at my church on a program called “Adventures in Faith” which we do every year. We explored different aspects of how we relate to our spirituality. My minister had read something that Jean Houston had written about the labyrinth and she suggested that I go find out about “this labyrinth thing”. She had heard that I could do this in San Francisco. So I flew to San Francisco to attend the pilgrimage and facilitator training at Grace Cathedral, not knowing anything about the labyrinth.
Is that when you started to get involved with Lauren and Veriditas?
Yes. At the time Lauren was traveling all over the world doing pilgrimages and she needed people to come and facilitate with her. She didn’t have a very large pool of people to draw from because there weren’t very many of us. So I was fortunate enough to be with her and be a facilitator for her in a large number of different retreat settings around the United States as well as going to Chartres a number of times where I was a small group leader. That was quite an amazing experience. We were a very tight knit group in the beginning who got to know each really well. It was a real blessing, that’s what it was, a real blessing. For me, it was the world opening to something different that I had no idea of before. It so influenced my life going forward.
Would you share some experiences or stories with us?
One of the struggles that I’ve had all throughout my time in the church is my struggle to meditate. When I did that first pilgrimage and took the facilitator training at Grace, I learned that movement helps my meditation very much. I had not ever had that experience until then. It opened the door for me to be able to come in contact with my God, my Higher Power within me in an incredibly more powerful way because the tool itself was so powerful.
That very first labyrinth walk at that pilgrimage was spectacular! I remember that it was evening and we were in Grace Cathedral. It was candlelit and a woman was singing. As we were walking, I was sort of in another zone, sort of moved out of myself and out of my body. All of a sudden it felt as if there were moths all around us and I was just waving them away. When I opened my eyes I realized that some of the Veriditas’ staff was in the upper balcony dropping rose petals on us. I was so moved. I remember standing there and we were just laughing on the labyrinth like children. It was so delightful, watching these rose petals come down. It symbolized for me the wonderment of the labyrinth. It was so unexpected; we were all caught off guard. It’s something that I have remembered in detail to this day because to me it was one of the gifts of the labyrinth, bringing us back to a sense of wonder and joy.
Another powerful experience for me was going to Chartres and walking there for the first time. You see the candlelit labyrinth, the music is playing and you are having the experience of moving through the crypt and up. It is so soul stirring! You’re walking the path that people have been walking for the last eight hundred years. Each person seeking their God, whatever that means to them, from whatever place they’ve started. So to walk that path at Chartres is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I’ve been on spiritual journeys all over the world and there is nothing that compares to that. The sense of oneness and connection to all the seekers that have been before you and all the seekers that will follow you.
Are you still facilitating labyrinth walks?
I headed the labyrinth program at my church for many years. Chris and Larry Katzenmeyer, who are close friends, took it over from me. [Chris is a Veriditas Board member and coordinator of the Legacy Labyrinth project.] I still assist them. I also speak on Good Friday and do other activities in support. Labyrinth walking is a part of classes that we offer at the church so I’m often invited to assist with those but I’m not as active as I was early on. I still walk it every opportunity I get. There’s a labyrinth within a mile of my house that I can walk. I’m just grateful that the growth of the whole labyrinth movement has expanded. There are so many more labyrinths than when we started. I’ve taken groups to the south of France and Chris and Larry facilitate for me. Dear, dear friends. I adore them so much and am grateful for the difference that they have made in the labyrinth movement. They are extraordinary people and have had an extraordinary effect on the labyrinth movement.
Why do you donate to Veriditas?
I feel like there’s a lot of noise in the world and the labyrinth offers an opportunity to have a sense of inner quiet. It’s a very good investment if we want peace in our lifetime. Being a Sustaining Giver gives me a chance every month to remind myself that I am giving to something that I am hoping is a stepping stone to peace in our world. I think labyrinths have a way of offering that one step at a time. And it’s just going to happen with each of us. There’s no magical solution. No one is going to come and do it for us. We have to do it for ourselves. It’s important to put our money in the places that have an opportunity to support that idea of inner peace.
By Chris Katzenmeyer, Project Director of the Veriditas Legacy Labyrinth
Who knew 3 years ago--or even 3 weeks ago--the degree to which USA citizens would be challenged to keep compassion and kindness alive in a chaotic environment where so many human rights and environment concerns are at stake due to significant policy changes? It has become increasingly clear that our communities, our nation, and the globe needs our prayers and positive action now more than ever.
Again, who knew 3 years ago that Veriditas would launch a new project called the Legacy Labyrinth to address local communities’ need for healing as well as the global need? Who knew that we could link them all together with intention and constellate the power of labyrinth prayers?
During the Labyrinth Society meeting last November, Dr. Jocelyn Shealy McGee, PhD, MSG, a global health and culture researcher at Baylor University, shared that she thought it could be beneficial to utilize a canvas labyrinth as a tool in two of her primary humanitarian projects. First, to help the people of Haiti, particularly clergy and other community leaders, to heal from the effects of Hurricane Matthew. Second, to enhance resilience in guardians of orphans and other vulnerable children in Malawi, Africa.
The Legacy Labyrinth Project had a donor who donated a 24’ 7 circuit canvas labyrinth to Dr. McGee to use for these purposes. The family foundation that purchased the first Legacy Labyrinth in Argentina made this possible in order to keep paying forward the healing work of the Project.
Once it is completed it, is Jocelyn’s intention to have various communities, including schools and churches, from the Oklahoma City area (her hometown) warm up the new canvas labyrinth with love, support, and healing for those affected by difficult times domestically and abroad. The Legacy Labyrinth Project will be raising funds for permanent Legacy Labyrinths later in the year.
The canvas labyrinth will be designed and painted by international labyrinth designer, John Ridder.
For more information about the Legacy Labyrinth Project, please click here.
The date has been set for our 2017 Annual Veriditas Auction! Mark your calendars - the fun begins October 2nd and continues until our auction close at midnight on October 22nd! We are thankful for the powerful support we received from our Veriditas community (all of you!) during our 2016 auction and we hope you'll join in the festivities to make our 2017 auction our best one yet!
There are many ways to help out - from donating, to bidding, to sharing the word of our auction. In the coming months we'll be accepting donations and will be sending an email out with more details about donating or what items might work well in the auction (remember no item is too big or too small - variety is the key!). If you'd like to jump-start the process, feel welcome to contact Jenny Slama (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get started! Of course we'll also be sure to remind you as our auction draws near and share some sneak-peeks and some tips for securing a winning bid!
Point, Click & Bid - our 2017 Auction is sure to be a great event. Best yet, it's a wonderful way to support the ongoing work of Veriditas now and beyond!
For more information about our annual auction, click here.
Dear Labyrinth Facilitators and Healers,
I am so happy to let you know that the theme for 2017 is LOVE. The planning for this year and this quarter are a great example of how the Global Healing Response is an organic creation. Jo Ann Mast and I had agreed at the end of the year that we needed a theme of LOVE. In fact, it hit both of us like a ton of bricks one morning—the same morning. And then, we developed the quarters. We knew we would need courage to face what was ahead of us after the US election and its effects around the world. We just had no idea how much courage. Sigh.
The Women's March that I attended in Chicago was a Lovefest and has inspired me to see how strength can be rooted in Love, support and hope. I know many of you have had the same experience. The GHR walks that happened on January 15th for Standing Rock, thanks to Robin Dilley, were inspiring and the issue continues to be so important! The intense yet calm eyes of our image, the lioness, feel like a great energy to hold on to. Thank you, Rev. Warren Lynn, for the photo. The meditation that Judith wrote is going to be taped on the left side of my computer at work. I think it is beautiful and inspiring.
One of my favorite quotes is by Annie Kirkwood, "Peace on earth lies only in the hearts of peaceful men, women and children." We are each responsible for the Peace and Love that surounds us right now. If you are like me, and have to resist the overwhelming feelings of fear, sometimes this takes courage. It takes courage to stay awake to what is happening and not bury your head in the sand and yet balance that with a calm trust that the Universe works for the good. Our quote for the quarter feels absolutely right and I thank the powers that be for bringing it to me.
The labyrinth is the perfect vessel to help us stay rooted in Love and find our Courage and community. I'm sure there are amazing courageous acts of faith (peaceful marches, phone calls to legislaters, creative art, gatherings, and more) that will be revealed to us.
We are the leaders in this movement of LOVE. This is what we have been trained for. We know how the labyrinth can help an individual, heal a community and reveal possibilities. Let's share our knowledge and wisdom.
With that said, please take time to take care of yourselves. Don't let your vessel become empty. We need you!! Feel free to share these materials with anyone who might be interested.
If you are a new facilitator and are unfamiliar with The Global Healing Response, please click here for more information and history. Don't hesitate to contact me if you have questions, ideas or concerns. My email is email@example.com.
With Loving gratitude for all you do that will lead to acts of Courage,
Founder, 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 2017 is LOVE
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is Love.” —1 Corinthians 13:13
"It takes a great deal of courage to see the world in all its tainted glory and still to love it." —Oscar Wilde
(Photo supplied 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
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Proceeds benefit the Veriditas scholarship fund.
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