First Events on the New Labyrinth.

Oct 16th 2009 was an inaugural day for Canadian Labyrinth Ventures, our new partnership between myself, Barbara Brown and Vanessa Compton. We invited the composer John Burke to present his ideas and theories on the interaction that happens when musicians offer musical accompaniment for a labyrinth walk. John talks about a kind of relationship that forms between musician and participant one that represents a significant shift from what happens in the concert hall. This notion intrigued me for many reasons and John’s visit gave us and opportunity to experience it for ourselves. We were very pleased to invite 11 professional musician to an intimate workshop where we could experience what I had only experienced once before in Chartres, France. Music offered for the labyrinth is said to form a kind of blanket that helps to hold the space open. While it is quiet possible to walk a labyirnth without musical accompaniment it does add a dimention that is very tangible but hard to discribe.

Musical Collaborations with the Labyrinth: A Workshop for musicians
Musical Collaborations with the Labyrinth: A Workshop for musicians

The workshop served to bring some awareness of these special qualities to the musical community and we look forward to exploring these ideas at our monthly friday night labyrinth walks. John offered the idea of the labyrinth as a kind of laboratory to experiment and I liked that notion. It frees us to experiment and to risk offering what is truly in our hearts.

John Burke accompanying on the piano.
John Burke accompanying on the piano.

Our second event of the day was the inauguration of our monthly “Labyrinth as Sanctuary” Series which will be held the 3rd friday of most months (not December or the summer). A good group of both men and women of various age groups gathered, some from within the Cathedral and others from the community at large. Vanessa and I gave an introduction to the labyrinth and the basic “how to’s”. John Burke and Bruce Nicol collaborated to offer a musical setting based on John’s twelve chord seed pattern. The music was a quiet blend of piano, guitar and gentle percussion, in a back and forth conversation between the musicians and their instruments.

Labyrinth as Sanctuary-Oct 16/09
Labyrinth as Sanctuary-Oct 16/09

Through my work at the Perley and Rideau Veterans Health Centre I have come to know how the simple existence of a labyrinth can provide a sanctuary within our busy lives. While the use of the labyrinth is slow to catch on the mire fact that it is available provides a caring gesture which is open to all. But when the labyrinth is surrounded by candles and blanketed in beautiful music, it is truly a welcome place. The insight that came to me while walking the labyrinth that evening was how the labyrinth can be a still point in our busy, moving, revolving world.

Gathering at the Centre
Gathering at the Centre

I was happy to see that the new cushions I made got used. Sumptuous deep burgundy velvet circles- a great place to rest! As you sit in the centre of the labyrinth you become the still pointe and the rest of the group circles about you. It’s quiet the experience.

Vanessa and I look forward to developing our work with labyrinth over the next few years. Friday November 20th, 2009 will be our next event and we look forward to welcoming Tim Piper to accompany the evening with his musical inspiration.


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