Labyrinth as Sanctuary with Theda Pheonix

There is a great deal of trust involved in creating a labyrinth, doing all the work of setting it up, advertising, inviting people to come and then turning over the whole evening to a musician we barely know. We did it, and we were not disappointed.

I would like to be one of those people who comes to our labyrinth walks, perhaps with a friend or not, puts $20 in the basket and settles in for an enchanting evening of sublime music, a peaceful and transformative setting and tea!

Theda Phoenix is an exceptional young woman from Vancouver who has accompanied the labyrinth at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, on Jervis Street in Vancouver for several years. Here in Ottawa she was the first musician we have had who had experience playing for the labyrinth. Among our community, the labyrinth is something very new to most people, including musicians. We have discovered over the dozen or so times we have presented the labyrinth this past season that there are more than a few right answers to what constitutes music to accompany the labyrinth. I did hear one of our regular participants say “this was the best yet”. A matter of personal preference perhaps, but each offering by a musician has been so different and personal and wonderful at the same time. At this point I can’t say that I have a preference, but I’ve certainly enjoyed them all. We do know that it makes a difference when a musician comes to the labyrinth with a healing, supportive and open hearted intention. As I stood back and watched over the scene of people walking the labyrinth, or sitting in quiet meditation, holding a cup of tea or deeply involved in painting or writing, I had the sense that all was well. I felt a deep sense of peace. Unexpected, perhaps not, but very welcomed just the same.

With over 40 people in the labyrinth there was a real sense of movement in the room. There are people in constant motion and then several  sitting or standing in the centre of the labyrinth. The contrast between the stillness and the movement is quiet pronounced. I wanted to capture that contrast in a photograph to both illustrate it and remember the feeling of being still yet experiencing the gentle energy of movement all around. The feeling was of being the still point. I can create a still point! Two days later I continue to have a sense of that still point, like an anchor. I wonder how long it will last?

The evening with Theda was a beautiful ending to the first season of Canadian Labyrinth Ventures programming! Vanessa and I are now in planning mode, preparing our next steps. Over the summer we will be creating two labyrinths for the classical music festival August 6, 7 and 8 to be held at Harbourfront in Toronto. This is a collaboration with the composer John Burke and the performance group Ensemble Vivant. The idea is to transform the usual passive interaction of concert goers by offering an opportunity to walk the labyrinth during the performance thus breaking down the old fourth wall of the typical concert setting. It will be intriguing to see how it is received.

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