We are grateful you are a part of the labyrinth community.From all of us at Veriditas, we send our warmest wishes to you for a Happy Thanksgiving and the whole Holiday season.
By Richard Gardner
Labyrinth at Seirei Syūdōin, photo by Mitsuyo Takeda
In 1997, members of Tokyo Union Church West introduced the Chartres Labyrinth into Japan by acquiring an eleven-circuit canvas labyrinth. This labyrinth has been used annually at Christian International University and the Women’s Christian Conference as well as at other venues on occasion. In 2009, my wife, Mitsuyo Takeda, and myself were trained as Veriditas Labyrinth Facilitators at Chartres and were certified in 2015.
In 2014, my wife and myself published a Japanese translation of Lauren Artress’ Walking a Sacred Path with Sophia University Press. We also acquired a canvas modified seven-circuit Chartres labyrinth and formed an organization, Labyrinth Walk Japan, to promote the use of the Chartres labyrinth in Japan. Since that time labyrinth walks have been held, among other places, at Sophia University, Tokyo Union Church, Asian Rural Institute, the Kagawa Center in Kobe, St. Ignatius Church, and Shirayuri College in Sendai.
Labyrinth at Tokyo Union Church, photo by Mitsuyo Takeda
An interesting event in the development of the interest in labyrinths in Japan occurred in 2011. The Sisters of the Holy Spirit built a permanent outdoor labyrinth at their convent in Tokyo. A piece of ground had become vacant at the convent and the sisters were wondering what to do with it. Sister Murakami recalled seeing decades ago a very small picture of a labyrinth in a German magazine. Constructed by a local gardening company, the labyrinth is unique in design; the path is wide enough to easily accommodate wheel chairs, even when passing in opposite directions on the path.
When we introduced sisters to the translation of Walking a Sacred Path, they began holding monthly labyrinth walks. In September of this year the sisters, again under the inspiration of Sister Murakami, completed the construction of a permanent labyrinth at their convent in Nagoya. It is a modified seven-circuit Chartres labyrinth and is 16-meters in diameter. It was made by a local construction company and made with loving care. The father of the current head of the construction company told him: “You have to make a beautiful labyrinth; it is a place for prayer.” The son carried out his father’s instructions well.
Labyrinth at Seirei Syūdōin, photo by Takashi Mizutani
There is also a growing interest in the labyrinth among some Buddhists. After reading the translation of Walking a Sacred Path, a priest at a major Buddhist temple, Meguro Fudoson, acquired a canvas seven-circuit Chartres labyrinth and has been using it on a regular basis.
Labyrinth at Meguro Fudōson, photo by Meguro Fudōson
Other Buddhist priests have also participated in labyrinth walks and some have even expressed interest in holding labyrinth walks, and even building labyrinths, at their temples. Little by little, interest in the labyrinth seems to be growing.In ending I would like to share on response to a labyrinth walk in Japan. This is a response from a woman in her 80s who walked the labyrinth at a church in Kumaomoto six months after the earthquake there.
This was the first time I had entered a church since my school days. As soon as I entered the church, I recalled praying every morning at school. My legs have been bothering me recently so I waited before everyone else had finished walking before entering the labyrinth. At first I felt very unsteady walking but then I got the hang of it. My legs did not hurt me at all. I also felt secure because the leader of the session was peacefully walking in a circle around the outer edge of the labyrinth. When I reached the center, I naturally let out a deep breath. I have lived a life where I faced many difficulties, from my childhood to the present. But I now see my life has been a good one!
Helen Fraser with Jeanie Miley
Rita: When did you first encounter a labyrinth?Helen: My Spiritual Director, Jeanie Miley, first introduced the labyrinth to me in Houston. She trained with Lauren and is a Veriditas Certified Facilitator. I went to one of her day long Saturday workshops in which she uses a canvas labyrinth. I did a couple of walks with her. Fast forward a couple of years later where she was telling me about her experiences in Chartres and asked if I would be interested in going to Chartres for one of Lauren’s workshops. So I went to Chartres with her in Spring of 2016 and have been on 4 or 5 spiritual pilgrimages with her, 2 of which have been in Chartres.
In 2016, the first year I went to Chartres, I hadn’t become conscious
of how chaotic my life had become. Lots of changes and challenges were
happening. I lost my parents within a month of each other, my children
were getting married and having babies. There was unrest with my
husband’s job and therefore with him. I was unconscious of all this
discord that was in my life. I wasn’t “paying attention”.
When I went to Chartres we did the labyrinth walk. When I entered I was probably too self-conscious. It was like “I hope I get this right. I told God that I really didn’t know what I was doing and I hope I get this right.” I really didn’t understand. So I entered the labyrinth and actually got disoriented.
While I was on the labyrinth I got twisted and turned around. I couldn’t tell which way I was going; I literally got lost. Looking back on this, I realized that I was lost. It was the metaphor that the Spirit was trying to tell me: “You’re lost. Come home to Me, come home to your Self, your Higher Self, your True Self.”
This last time in Chartres, Fall 2018, my life had changed drastically. All of the things that were hidden away from me had come out into the light and I was in desperate need of healing and of God. And to know that He knows me and sees me, and will speak to me if I will get quiet and let go and let God. And so I entered the labyrinth this time with my heart turned towards the Spirit. Basically hands turned up, “God, you know my need, I’m desperate. Please help me.” And I walked slowly, intentionally, trying to stay very present with my breath and go deeply into the walk. And there were tears that flowed and there was so much pain. By the time I got to the center, I decided that I was going to stay there until deep peace came. I could sense the peace in my body and my breathing and just my whole being. I stayed there for some time. I tend to be very impetuous and reactive. I’ve learned it’s a survival mechanism for all of the family situations I dealt with. Fifth of five girls, famous father, four children of my own, husband. I learned it as a technique of survival. That’s just the way my life had become. So that day on the labyrinth, I was determined to not exit the center until I had received peace. And it was a metaphor for collecting myself. Peace did come. As I left the center and walked at my own pace I felt a deep, deep peace.
Joy came in like I’ve never felt before. I could feel it on a cellular level in my body. Once I was out I just sat down and was in that space where I could just experience the joy, come what may. Now important stuff can be going on in my life and I can access that peace and joy. It’s like being below the sea, down on the bottom of the ocean. The labyrinth is a way for me to get there now. The two different experiences are so telling of where I am now in my journey with God, my relationship with God and myself. And I’m finding my true self through my Spiritual Director, Lauren and the labyrinth, and my singing and prayer practice. All of these things are in my breath. These are places that I can go to find myself. I can collect myself to get to that place of peace and joy. That’s been my two experiences of Chartres with Lauren. And that’s where I am now.
Rita: Why do you donate to Veriditas?
Helen: I look at what Veriditas and Lauren are doing in this world to help bring about Peace and the love of God that is so desperately needed. Mankind needs to know that individually and collectively we’re all One. Lauren is such a beautiful honed instrument of God with such a divine purpose. I just open up and the gratitude takes me over and I donate! It was just out of gratitude to God, Lauren and Jeannie Miley, my spiritual director and friend. How they are surrendered to God to be used for God’s kingdom is so…..I just can’t tell you in words the depth of the gratitude I feel.
by Chris Farrow-Noble
the weekend of September 14-16, I was one of seven original builders of
the St. Yves Labyrinth to participate in the Builders Reunion weekend
in Chartres. Seven years ago in 2011, we created a replica of the
Cathedral labyrinth with 12 other builders with the leadership of Lauren
Artress and Jeff Saward. We rejoiced in being together once again and
helped weed and clear the labyrinth and its surrounding garden in
preparation for its dedication as the 5th Legacy Labyrinth. Chris
Katzenmeyer, Executive Director of the Legacy Labyrinth Project convened
conversations. Lauren Artress and Dawn Matheny were invaluable as
always and celebrated the renewed commitment to the labyrinth with us.
Our continuing joy is that the newly appointed Rector and the Director
of the Maison St. Yves attended the dedication and committed to
maintaining the labyrinth and the garden, ensuring access, and
distributing information to visitors about the labyrinth in English,
French and German. Mj McGregor and I have accepted the roles of
Co-Steward and Facilitator for this Legacy Labyrinth. My deep connection
with this labyrinth continues.
Deadline for Applications: December 10, 2018
Since the Veriditas Council is now seeking new members, we are featuring current and recent Council members and their Fall involvement with the labyrinth. Several were presenters and participants at the 2018 Gathering of The Labyrinth Society (TLS). (Please see the Invitation to Apply for Council Membership and the link to the Application in this eNews.)Council Members who Presented at the TLS Gathering
Calen Rayne on "Labyrinths and the Geometry of Memory" My premise is that all labyrinths are part of a larger morphogenic field as described by Rupert Sheldrake. I believe that when someone walks a labyrinth, they are able to connect to memories from both the past and future, as well as to everyone who has ever walked a labyrinth anywhere in the world. These connections enable a person to better inform their life journey.
Marion Patterson on "Walking Naturally: Harvesting the Benefits of 'Organically' Created Labyrinths" One rewarding aspect of the 2018 TLS Gathering at Loyola Field Campus was working with colleagues. Twylla Alexander of Arkansas and I collaborated long distance over several months to prepare and present. Our focus was to share the joys of crafting from pieces of the earth labyrinths steeped in nature and profuse with plants. From these, we harvest unique experiences. After sharing visions of organic labyrinths and drawing from participants' knowledge, we headed outside on a drippy October day and created a three-circuit labyrinth from small stones and logs, and various weed and flower stems.
Watching the participants as they came together as a group and walked was rewarding. The labyrinth was theirs. Even more rewarding was to have several approach us as the conference wound down to express that they enjoyed our session so much. We believe our techniques of drawing on their expertise and allowing interaction were keys to this success. We all harvested many benefits.
Kathryn McLean on a Poster Presentation on a Labyrinth in a Senior Community in Florida In a polarized and rapidly changing culture, and with an increasingly diverse group of new residents moving in, an active senior living community in Atlantic Beach, Florida set out on a 3-year-long discernment journey to find out if a community labyrinth could be an effective common ground space for residents from many walks of life and varying physical abilities. The presentation takes a close look at a community in transition, from a community that was previously almost all retired military people with similar political and religious views to a community that now welcomes people from many different backgrounds and beliefs. The research looks at how this community-in-transition journeyed to find a common practice where all are welcomed, and where both seeds of healing and building community are highlighted and encouraged.
Ellen Meuch on “Global Healing Response”
Council Participants at the TLS Gathering:
Karen Kelley I enjoyed hearing all the presentations. Additionally, I enjoyed the TLS Regional Representatives' breakfast, and making connections with other regional reps there. It was a treat to see and be with old friends I only get to see once a year at the Gathering, and to make new ones. There was much interest in hearing all about the fascinating history of the Labyrinth Society. At the conclusion of the business meeting at Saturday lunch, TLS president Kay Whipple read aloud a letter from Lauren Artress congratulating TLS on their 20th anniversary. All clapped loudly at the end! The closing ceremony was especially touching, as we walked a labyrinth arm in arm with another attendee, while singing "Dear Friends," the usual closing song for Gatherings. All in all, a wonderful experience!
Other Council Members’ Fall Labyrinth InvolvementLinda Mikell
Linda was recently interviewed by a local TV station after her weekly labyrinth walk at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stonybrook, NY. The fellowship has renamed their labyrinth The Linda & Ed Mikell Labyrinth in gratitude for their many contributions to the fellowship.
Linda reports: Tuesday s walk was VERY special. I did a Global Healing Activity about those killed in hate crimes: The people killed in the synagogue, Kroger’s, the Yoga studio and Western Bar. Each person (27) took a name from each event. I asked them to carry the names with them for a week and do kind acts in memory of these people. It was VERY well received and I’ve heard about a few wonderful things that people have already done. I gave everyone Mother Teresa’s quote: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create ripples.” We are all creating ripples of kindness to counterbalance the hate.Judith Tripp
My autumn labyrinth work included my “Meeting Mary” class in Chartres in September. I had the thrilling experience of playing flute and singing for the “Meeting Mary” labyrinth walk, with the Builders’ Reunion joining us. There is nothing like the acoustic of Mary’s house!In October I led the 31st annual “Women’s Dream Quest, Dreaming Our Belonging’. Over 50 women spent the night in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, walking the labyrinth, singing, and enacting our rituals.
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 2018 is LIGHT
"To love beauty is to see light." —Victor Hugo
"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.