August 2014 

 



Facilitator Spotlight: Twylla Alexander

By Chris Farrow-Noble, Council Member

Our Facilitator in the Spotlight for August, Twylla Alexander, has barely touched ground since she completed her two-year journey of walking a labyrinth and interviewing its creator in all fifty states. She completed her goal in July on a beautiful labyrinth on Maui. Quite a finale!



Did you find the labyrinth or did it find you?

The labyrinth definitely found me. While my husband Drew and I were living and working in Juneau Alaska, my friend, Margie, invited me to walk the labyrinth at The Shrine of St. Therese. I didn’t know anything about labyrinths, but after walking it, I knew I wanted to continue to walk that labyrinth and find others.


What was the beginning “seed” of your project?

Several years after my first labyrinth walk, I retired after working for 30 years as a Speech-Language Pathologist/ elementary teacher and wanted to start some kind of personal journey. I just didn’t know what that might look like. I was inspired by our son Jason’s hike of the Appalachian Trail, but I knew that a sweaty, buggy, 15-or-more miles a day wasn’t my kind of journey. One morning while looking down at the Brooklyn Bridge from our Manhattan apartment, the idea suddenly came to me. “You love labyrinths. You love to write. Write about a labyrinth in every state!” I immediately called Marian, my friend of 30 years, and told her of my inspiration. Without hesitating, she said, “That’s wonderful, and I’ll go with you!” And she did, for 17 states.

What were the criteria for the labyrinths?

I found most of the labyrinths on the Worldwide Labyrinth Locator. Others were recommended by members of the labyrinth community through the Veriditas Listserve. My criteria began with two elements: 
  1. An outdoor labyrinth since nature is such an important part of my life. 
  2. A personal labyrinth without affiliation to a church or commercial enterprise.After walking the first five labyrinths on the journey, I realized that women had envisioned and/or created each of them. Recognizing that as a pattern I needed to follow, I added “women” as a third criterion:
  3. Envisioned and/or created by a woman or women.

How did you organize and plan the segments of your two-year journey?

My first venture was to visit labyrinths on the east coast, close to my home in New York and Marian’s in Connecticut. I identified three to four states at a time. I realized that the complete journey would take approximately two years since I needed to consider weather, accessibility, travel arrangements, and contacts with each labyrinth creator prior to visiting. I emailed ahead to each selected person and asked the following four questions:
  1. What was your first labyrinth experience?
  2. What prompted you to want to build your own labyrinth?
  3. How did you decide on the design and how did you build it?
  4. What value does the labyrinth add to your life? 
I was able to group the visits, picking parts of the country in appropriate seasons. The plan evolved. I had the sense that something was guiding me to grow and learn through this journey.



How did you learn about Veriditas?

As I was exploring a feasible time to visit California and Oregon, I learned about the facilitator training that would be offered at Grace Cathedral in April 2013. I planned my labyrinth visits during the same trip. That training with Lauren Artress helped solidify the labyrinth for me on a personal level. I also learned about the broader labyrinth community and the variety of support services that Veriditas offers.

 

What was the most challenging experience in your journey?

That’s an easy one to answer! On my trip from Victor, Montana to Salmon, Idaho, I had to cross Lost Trail Pass, 7000 foot elevation. With my fear of heights, I was already nervous, but an early September snowfall on the drive back petrified me. Luckily, another friend, Mary, was in the passenger’s seat, encouraging me as the snow grew heavier and roads whiter. I drove 25 MPH going to the top of the pass and even slower going down the other side. As the snow dissipated with the decrease in elevation, I finally breathed. The labyrinth was definitely taking me to locations and places within myself I never expected to go.

What do you consider the highlights of your journey?

Without a doubt, the highlights are the women I met and the stories they shared. I was sometimes weary after traveling to six states in six days, but I was always refreshed as soon as each woman greeted me and began telling her story. “This is why I’m on this journey,” I reminded myself, “The labyrinth is connecting me to women, each with a story that has something to teach me.” I have a map of the United States with photos of every woman I visited. I smile when I look at it, remembering a story, a connection, a new friend.


Eve Hogan and Twylla Alexander


What do you plan to do with these photos and stories?

I am currently writing a book as a vehicle to share these stories. Its working title is Labyrinth Journeys; 50 States, 51 Stories. My vision is that the book will be useful in gathering women together around the labyrinth, offering opportunities to share their talents and encourage other women’s stories to be heard. Of course, my story is the 51st. It weaves through the others on this two-year journey.

How has your journey affected you and your life?

Although I have lived in many countries, this personal journey greatly expanded my self-confidence. It has pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of doing - up mountains, across salt flats, into cornfields, in the center of a prairie labyrinth at dawn – at times with friends, but often alone. In addition, I feel enriched in deep spiritual ways by the moments spent with this circle of women around the country. By asking them what was important to them, I was able to listen carefully and bring their experiences into my life. For example, I am still inspired by Karen, battling cancer, yet waking up each day to delight in her flowers. Unfortunately, she has since died, but her spirit continues to touch my life.

Do you feel your journey had an impact on the women you visited?

Yes, this was an unexpected aspect of my journey. One woman in New Jersey, whose labyrinth was significantly destroyed by Hurricane Irene, called me two days after my visit to say that she had hired a backhoe operator to clear the space and start rebuilding the labyrinth.


I have now started the process of building my own labyrinth at our home in Arkansas. How fortunate I am to have heard 50 women tell me how they built their labyrinths. They have helped me decide how to create my own! There is a picture of the work-in-progress on my blog: newyorkcityreflections.blogspot.com under the “Labyrinth Journey” tab.


Painting of the labyrinth at the Shrine of
St. Therese in Juneau, Alaska 
by Margie Beedle




Donor Spotlight

By Rita Canning, Development Coordinator

This month’s interviewee is Claudia Miller. Claudia is an artist, Veriditas donor and a creative thinker who doesn’t believe in placing labels on people.



Rita: When did you first encounter the labyrinth?

Claudia:
I was attracted to the labyrinth as an artist and nature lover, and because of its symbolism and ancient myth. As a sculptor I was drawn to the labyrinth because of its three dimensional aspect as land art. When I first became interested in labyrinths I went to some that were around the Stonehenge area in England.

Rita: How did you get involved with Veriditas?

Claudia:
Claudia: I was googling about labyrinths and I wanted to see Stonehenge and some of the ancient labyrinths in England and Scotland. This was how I came across Veriditas and Lauren. I was so pleasantly surprised to see a Christian Minister who was stretching herself and having the courage to get involved in something that wasn’t so traditionally Christian, something that had a much more universal meaning. I got in touch with Veriditas and then went to Chartres which was an amazing experience.
 

The walk in Chartres at the Cathedral and the ceremony brought me deep into my subconscious. To me this is the kind of psychological symbolism that I’m attracted to as an artist. Because the same word means something different to different people, nonverbal communication is very important to me. This was offered there and that alone, in addition to my very deepest inner experiences, brought to the surface something for me that isn’t uncovered in our everyday lives.


Rita: Have you shared the labyrinth with others?


Claudia:
After I took the facilitator training I created a labyrinth at the local Art Center. This was made in the ground with mounds and beach grasses. Many people walk it because it’s in such a perfect place at the art center.

Rita: Why do you donate to Veriditas?

Claudia:
I’m really amazed with Lauren Artress. A Christian minister who has the courage to go where she is going is very, very rare. And the complexity of the labyrinth for all people is something which is very important for our world. You don’t have to be Christian to walk a labyrinth, you don’t have to be anything to walk a labyrinth. That is just what I like to promote. It is meditative, people can make out of it what they want, and it’s a chance for me to promote the nonverbal experience that the labyrinth allows. It’s an amazing tool that let’s one be contemplative and quiet, and put one foot in front of the other. This is what life is really all about – to put one foot in front of the other. Very simple. And the labyrinth exemplifies that and I love to promote it.



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 2014 is Unity and the focus for this quarter is Compassion /Understanding. The quote “Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.”undefined J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The third quarter is posted on the website, www.globalhealingresponse.com. We encourage you to visit the site soon and often.
 

Little Miracles on the Path


Each month, Linda Mikell, secretary to the Veriditas Council and New England Regional Representative, emails a Little Miracles on the Path story to 439 facilitators who have signed up for them. Facilitators from all over the world send her stories about interesting, touching events that happen at their labyrinth walks. If you would like to receive these stories, please contact Linda (edlinmik@optonline.net). Please don’t forget to send your story when you have one. Little Miracles are archived on the Facilitators Portal of the Veriditas Website.
 


Veriditas Annual Auction



October 6th to October 27th


The Veriditas organization is growing along with the work of the labyrinth in the world! We have found an easy and fun way to support this growth - and shop for cool stuff at the same time. Our On-line auction, powered by BiddingForGood, is fast approaching. Bidding begins in October. So, now is the time to build a fantastic auction catalog of items. Thanks, in advance, for your interest and support!

Two Ways to Help

Donate an Item


Donating an item is easy! (It’s even easier than listing an item on eBay). Just go to www.biddingforgood.com/veriditas and click “Donate an item.” You will need a digital photo of your item and a description for the listing. If you have any trouble listing an item please contact Joyce Krajian.

Donation ideas include labyrinth items, music, artwork, gift cards to national restaurants or stores (i.e. Starbucks, Borders), getaway vacation sites, services, books signed by authors - you get the idea! No item is too small! It’s great to have a wide price range of things to choose from.

Sponsor our Auction:


There are literally thousands of people who receive the information about our auction and are interested in the labyrinth. So, if you are a labyrinth vendor, artist, author, restaurant or store owner, this is a great way to advertise!!!


 

Bid on an Item


Beginning on October 6th the auction will be open. Please visit the Veriditas BiddingForGood site often to view our catalog of exciting items. It’s fun to check on your items and bids!

The auction site can be reached at www.biddingforgood.com/veriditas. If you have any trouble, please don’t hesitate to contact Joyce Krajian. She will send you an easy link via email.

Feel free to pass this information on to anyone who you think might be interested!

Bid high and Bid often!

Questions? Contact Joyce Krajian at veriditasauction@gmail.com

Help spread the word about our auction on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also download an item donation form here to print and share with your local community.

Questions? Contact Joyce Krajian at veriditasauction@gmail.com

Help spread the word about our auction on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. 
You can also download an item donation form here to print and share with your local community.




Veriditas would like to extend our well wishes 
to those in our community who were affected by last Sunday's earthquake. 
You are in our thoughts and prayers.




101 H Street, Suite D, Petaluma, CA 94952   |   707-283-0373   |   contact@veriditas.org

Veriditas is dedicated to inspiring personal and planetary change and renewal through the labyrinth experience.

We accomplish our mission by training and supporting labyrinth facilitators around the world, and offering meaningful events that promote further understanding of the labyrinth as a tool for personal and community transformation. Our Vision is that the labyrinth experience guides us in developing the higher level of human awareness we need to thrive in the 21st century.

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