By Amy Sutton /// Staff Writer
Participants of Lewis & Clark’s Interfaith Labyrinth Walk were met with stark silence when they entered the Diane Greg Pavilion on Tuesday, Feb. 25. The open, circular room was occupied only by a table adorned with a few fliers, a basket of clean socks and a painted canvas labyrinth in the center of the room. Students, staff and faculty were encouraged to take off their shoes, put on some socks, and meander through the labyrinth in a search for inner peace.
No one was present to explain how to walk the labyrinth. Instead, there was a single sign welcoming visitors. It outlined a handful of rules: to be respectful of fellow walkers, to refrain from talking and to take however much time was needed to “receive clarity, illumination and insight.”
Participants entered the labyrinth at the same point, but were encouraged to find their own path to the center. They were also encouraged to walk at their own pace and to do what came naturally to them while exploring the labyrinth––as long as it didn’t interfere with other walkers. “There’s no one way of walking it,” said Hilary Himan, the intern for the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at Lewis and Clark. Once walkers reached the center, they stood or sat for as long as they needed to focus on inward meditation. Then participants re-walked the same path that they had taken to the center, reflecting on their experiences before putting their shoes back on and leaving.
A labyrinth walk is a personal, independent experience. Though others may be present, the time is not meant to be shared. “To use the labyrinth as a contemplative tool,” one flier said, “take a few minutes to clear your mind.” It is reserved for meditation and personal reflection, to unplug iPods and cell phones and take a step back from the stress and rush of the semester. Between class work, clubs, sports and jobs, students may forget to take the time for meditation and reflection. The Labyrinth Walk provided them with both a reminder and an opportunity to do so.
Kathleen Burckhardt, a member of Lewis and Clark’s Interfaith Council, said she sees the labyrinth as a metaphor for life and living. Often while walking a labyrinth, “you don’t know exactly where you’re going.”
If walkers of the labyrinth were to take away any message from this event, they need only read the flier’s conclusion: “REMEMBER who you are (wholly beautiful) and RETURN to where you need to be in the world.”
If you missed last week’s Labyrinth Walk, the Interfaith Council is holding another one on Monday, April 21.