World Labyrinth Day Saturday 6th May, 12.30 – 2.00pm
Come and join us at the Friends Meeting House, Hartington Grove, Cambridge, CB1 7UB.
We will walk the cloth ‘pebble labyrinth’ and spend some time in quiet reflection in the peaceful setting of the Friends Meeting House.
Books and finger labyrinths will be available to browse. Refreshments of tea and fruit juice will be provided. A suggested donation of £4 will help cover hall hire. There is a car park, and further street parking.
Labyrinth Retreat at Quiet Waters Christian Retreat House, Bungay, Suffolk NR35 1PD Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th June
Cost £150 (full board) or £140 if sharing a room
On this gently paced retreat, led by experienced retreat leader Kay Barrett, we will explore the ancient form of the labyrinth and have fun making our own labyrinth in the beautiful riverside garden. We will also participate in a candlelit evening labyrinth walk. There will be plenty of opportunity for quiet time and to explore the surrounding Suffolk countryside. Our morning and evening worship will have a Celtic flavour, including songs and chants from the Iona community and Taize. All food is home cooked using local and home grown produce wherever possible.
Quiet Waters is a wonderful place to withdraw from the rush of everyday life, whether as a day guest or boarding visitor. To find out more do visit their website, http://www.quietwaters.org.uk
Places on the labyrinth retreat may be booked via Kay or by contacting Quiet Waters direct at email@example.com
Join labyrinth walkers around the globe and ‘Walk as One at One’ on World Labyrinth Day here in Cambridge UK. The venue will be the peaceful main room of the Friends Meeting House in Hartington Grove. For Sat Navs and GPS devices the venue is 91 – 93 Hartington Grove, CB1 7UB. Time 12.30 – 2.30 pm. I’m very happy to be bringing the cloth ‘pebble labyrinth’ for our walk, and I hope some of the original team who helped paint the labyrinth will also come along, as well as friends old and new who would like to join with labyrinth walkers world-wide in sending a wave of peace and harmony around the globe. There is no charge for the event, but donations toward the hire of the room will be welcome. ‘World Labyrinth Day’ is an initiative of The Labyrinth Society, and you can find out more about them on their website, http://www.labyrinthsociety.org
When I first came across the labyrinth, I thought how wonderful it would be to share it with others from all walks of life, including folk who normally find they are marginalised from society. I already had quite a few friends and contacts in the homeless community through my work as a community musician. I was lucky to find a friend at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden who shared my vision, and we set to work turning our idea into reality.
So finally it came to pass, on a very warm Wednesday in August 2012, that a group of homeless and ex-homeless people came as guests to the wonderful green space known as the University of Cambridge Botanic Garden, with the aim of creating and walking a labyrinth, and of spending time enjoying the garden setting.
Our mission was to create a temporary labyrinth, using one 20-kilo sack of mixed corn. This is a mix of bright yellow cracked maze and wheat, of the sort that is very desirable to chickens! The paths of the labyrinth would be edged by a curving trail of this grain, with each trail poured from the mouth of a recycled lemonade bottle.
There is a certain skill to the grain pouring, which generally comes after a few spills and a certain amount of practice! The second skill to learn is that of following your mark on the guide rope as it sweeps round in an arc, fixed at one end to a swivel in the centre of the labyrinth, and held low to the ground at the other end by a slowly circling person – on this occasion by me, crawling on my hands and knees.
The classical labyrinth form is a compelling shape, and as it began to appear, passers-by stopped to watch. Sometimes it seems to me that the labyrinth acts as a net, catching people and animals in its intriguing threads. Our visitors were welcomed in and invited to join us as companions in our walking. We especially admired the fleet footed running of Lucia! We hoped that many more visitors would walk our labyrinth before the squirrels, birds and mice of the garden nibbled the grains away and it slowly returned to green.
I launched the walk with a short explanation of the three stages of a labyrinth walk:
• ‘releasing’ on the winding path inward;
• ‘receiving’ as you pause, for as long as you like, in the centre…
• ‘returning’ as you wind your way out again, bringing with you whatever you have received.
The labyrinth is a great place to receive artistic and poetic inspiration. So we set to work with paper, pens, pastels and crayons to record in some way what we had received and felt in the garden. I also placed a small heap of ripe hazelnuts at the centre of the labyrinth for people to pick up as a keepsake. This seemed appropriate, as the hazelnut is an ancient Celtic symbol of wisdom. The hazelnut is also meaningful in the Christian tradition. The medieval mystic, Julian of Norwich, had a vision in which she saw ‘everything that is’, small as a hazelnut, yet held safely in the palm of God’s hand.
The hazel nuts seemed fitting to take away as a keepsake to remind us of our experience, and I imagine the squirrels were very pleased with the leftovers. Best of all, EVERYONE who came had some positive thought or inspiration to take away from the day. That is truly the gift of the labyrinth, and I was glad to be there to see it happen.