Courage in the Darkness: A pilgrimage experience of the Labyrinth
Workshop March 21 2008
Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa
This workshop experience focused on the use of the labyrinth as a transformative tool. In partnership with Vanessa Compton , fellow artist and labyrinth facilitator we formed the intent of using art making experiences as a way of extending and exploring the labyrinth experience.
Things did not go exactly as we had planned as we found the participants were hungry for art making opportunity. We began the walk with a simple gesture as an opening and walked the labyrinth as a group. As participants finished there walk they began processing their experience using the art materials available and doing journal writing. Several of the participants walked very slowly with eyes almost closed, they seemed to be having an intense and meditative experience of the labyrinth. The building was very quiet and no other activity was going on at that time. This supported the reflective atmosphere of the workshop.
When participants finished their walk and personal processing time we gathered around the centre of the labyrinth, around the alter of stones and thorns with our artwork and a cup of tea for a discussion. Vanessa and I primed the discussion with some of our own experiences and then the participants started offering their stories. The level of discussion was surprisingly involved, evolved and complex. Some of the discussion was on a conceptual level and I thought perhaps the participants did not know each other well enough to open up with personal content. One woman spoke of the difficultly of being a Jewish woman in a Christian Church and taking on the whole of history the Jewish people have suffered. I became mindful of my resolve to present the labyrinth with themes that are inclusive and language that is neutral so as not to bar anyone from participating. Perhaps in future I will invite participants to make their own connections to whatever religion or culture they belong to, rather than presenting those connections as the theme of the day.
On a whole, for a first workshop experience it far exceeded my expectations.