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Legacy Labyrinth Project
Global Healing Response
Little Miracles on the Path
Did you find the labyrinth or did it find you?
The labyrinth definitely found us. Through One Spirit Seminary, I found books on the labyrinth, which, ultimately, led to Lauren Artress. In a matter of months, six of us were taking the facilitator training in San Francisco with Lauren. We had always wanted to open a place for healing and celebration, but the question of exactly what that space would center on had remained unanswered until then.
Did you already have a space in mind?
We came to find that the space had been ready for us all along; we just hadn’t realized it yet. Many years ago, I purchased the property from the neighboring Baptist church. On December 21, 2012, the day when the Mayan calendar ended (and many believed the world would end with it), we consecrated the space and dedicated it to healing and spirit, still not knowing exactly what that would look like. Soon thereafter, the labyrinth found us, and we knew what the space had been saved for.
Where did the name Omnisara come from?
We created the word ourselves. We wanted the space to be a sanctuary for anyone and everyone, and we wanted our name to reflect that. My eldest daughter, Mackenzie, has studied Latin for many years. While exploring various naming ideas, we came upon two Latin words – Omnis, meaning all or everyone, and Ara, meaning altar or sanctuary. It was perfect.
You speak fondly of this group; who are the people in Omnisara?
We are all family, plus one friend of over 20 years. Each person brings unique gifts and talents to Omnisara. My husband and I are ordained Interfaith ministers through One Spirit Seminary. My interest is in balancing Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine energy, however it may present in human form. Sam’s focus is on men’s spirituality. Mackenzie, my daughter, has years of experience in administration and technology and has worked mainly with schools and non-profits. Todd, her husband, is a Naturopathic Doctor who graduated from Bastyr University. Whitney, my second daughter, is a classically trained actor who brings creativity through theatre and drama. Denise, a long-time friend, is a spiritual seeker who connects people with indigenous spirituality.
I understand most of you are trained Veriditas facilitators. How did that happen?
Within three months of learning about labyrinths and Lauren Artress, we traveled together to San Francisco for facilitator training at Grace Cathedral. We returned with a compelling thought: to have a labyrinth at the heart of our healing center.
How would you describe your vision for the sacred space?
How did you learn about the Legacy Labyrinth?
From the moment the labyrinth found us, it has been leading us. We have simply been doing our best to keep up with it! After San Francisco, we decided to start our endeavors with a canvas labyrinth until we developed a clearer plan and had dedicated funds for our permanent space. Soon after the portable one arrived, we read about the Legacy Labyrinth offer on the 2013 Veriditas Auction website. We were moved by the worldwide Legacy Labyrinth concept, through which we could connect with other labyrinth communities. We felt as though we were being guided, so we stepped forward in faith and placed our bid. We couldn’t afford to do it at the time, but we couldn’t afford not to, either!
What design did you choose for the Omnisara Labyrinth?
Our experience at Grace Cathedral moved us, and we felt very drawn to the Chartres Cathedral style labyrinth, including lunations. We knew our space would accommodate a 38’ diameter labyrinth, but we had yet to decide what it would be made of. After initially viewing stones with the site preparation team of Chris and “Katz” Katzenmeyer and labyrinth builder John Ridder, we decided to use a concrete base with painted lines. The flat surface allows people of all ages and abilities to walk the labyrinth, and the material will last for years to come.
What has been your greatest challenge in this project?
Now the official Dedication of the Omnisara Labyrinth and Gardens is just days away. How does that feel?
We will need every minute between now and then, but we will be ready! The dedication on Saturday, October 18th, at 6:00 p.m., will welcome over 50 people including Veriditas representatives, family and close friends, and members of local labyrinth communities. Lauren Artress will lead the sunset service. The space will be lit with celebratory luminaria, and a classical guitarist will be playing throughout the evening. We believe that Veriditas and the Legacy Labyrinth project will be pleased.
What are your plans for the future?
Most immediately, the public opening will be on Saturday, November 8th, from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Our neighborhood is replete with community-building opportunities, and we are intent on providing opportunities for individuals and groups to utilize the labyrinth and gardens as much as possible. There are several churches in our immediate area, and many have already expressed great enthusiasm for the opening of the Omnisara Labyrinth. We have a long-standing association with Discovery Montessori School and look forward to working with children and families both there and throughout the city. Jacksonville also has many excellent medical facilities and is a healthcare destination for many. We intend to offer health and wellness services to those seeking a more holistic approach to their care. As we grow, we plan to offer programs and classes on spirituality, wellness, and creativity to our entire community.
The gardens are currently in their infancy, but we plan to include many opportunities for meditation, including pathways, a water feature, sculpture, and a fire pit. The gardens will be intentionally designed as a healing space.
“Our intention is to provide
The Legacy Labyrinth Project is a Veriditas sponsored initiative to build and dedicate labyrinths around the world that want to focus on community healing or memorializing loved ones. There are many places on our globe that have communities needing great healing. A labyrinth is one of the most powerful containers available that can facilitate all intentions for healing, and can be available to a community at any time. The long range intention of this project is to have all Legacy Labyrinths in the Project, link to each other around the world to form a web and/or network for global healing.
To date Veriditas has built, dedicated and linked the La Falda Labyrinth in Argentina built in March of 2014 to the Jacksonville Beach, Omnisara Labyrinth in Florida, built in May of 2014.
For more information about the Legacy Labyrinth Project, please contact Chris Katzenmeyer.
Rita: When did you first encounter the labyrinth and Veriditas?Brenda:
It was in the '90's that a group from my parish church, St. Stephen's, in Brantford, attended a labyrinth workshop at "Five Oaks Retreat Center", led by Anne Tanner. She was one of the founding members of the "Toronto Labyrinth Network Committee", who have brought Lauren to Toronto on a couple of occasions for workshops and Facilitator training. This was my first introduction to the labyrinth and I was immediately touched by its beauty and mystery. I wanted to know more. We created a beautiful Chartres style one at St. Stephen's using a kit provided by Veriditas, at the time. After that initial work, I realized I wanted to take the Facilitator's training. Along with my parish priest, Mark Gladding, I went to Baltimore's Sacred Heart Retreat Centre for that very training. It was there that I first met Lauren. Her presence resonated with me. I felt a divine creative energy, powerfully within her. I just knew I was in the right place. Walking the labyrinth there will always remain important to me. It set me on a right path. I came to understand that the labyrinth brings us into the center of our souls and helps us see who we are and where we are going in life. I am very grateful for that experience. It changed the course of my life.Rita: Would you share one of those experiences with our readers?
One experience was most profound. When I was walking the labyrinth one evening, there was this moment when I was in perfect synch with another walker who was off to one side ahead of me. My friend Mark was on the other side of me, just a little behind. And for about 12 steps we were in perfect synch walking the path and I felt this message that I had to speak to this woman. After the walk I came up to her and shared my story of my husband, that he had muscular dystrophy and part of what I was doing there was learning how to be a better caregiver for him. It was the next day another woman came over to me and said to me that the woman I had spoken to the night before had informed her that my husband had muscular dystrophy. She came to me because her husband had just been diagnosed. So she felt that it would be significant for us to talk. So I shared many things with her. The next walk on that day, I sat on the outside of the circle when she walked and just held her in prayer. She spent much time in the center on the floor curled up, weeping. When she came out she just held me. She couldn’t speak but we both understood that there had been healing and she was glad of my support. So it was one of those mysterious times where the spirit leads people together who need to know each other and share something very significant with each other. And I’m forever grateful for that energy that made me pay attention and see the point of opportunity, not knowing where it was going to lead me but knowing it was significant at the time.
Rita: Would you tell us about your work with the labyrinth with others?
In the beginning I did try to go out and take the labyrinth to different places and teach groups in women’s shelters but my lifestyle wouldn’t let me do that, because I need to be there for my husband. That’s why initially I decided to create a labyrinth on my property. So what’s been happening over these last 7 years is that people come to me and I’ve been able to share it. Even this morning someone called who want to come and walk. I find that it suits my lifestyle and it’s an offering that has been quite profound for many people who have come. At this point that’s how I work with the labyrinth in the community that I’m living in. Who knows where that may lead me in time but right now it’s always a great joy for me to be able to do that. Often times when I connect with people there is something else that comes from that. There is a ripple where one person tells someone, then that person tells someone else. You’re never sure in the world when some small thing that you do affects other people. And that’s the other part of what I find so unique about the labyrinth. You meet people that you wouldn’t expect to meet. I’ve learned many things from people who come here. What they’ve brought me is quite profound at times.
Rita: Why do you donate to Veriditas?
I believe in the work that Veriditas is doing, especially that sort of core essence that Lauren has in wanting to teach the world to pray again. Lauren is quite a presence that is very powerful because she came to understand that her mission in life was to teach the world to pray. Over the years my understanding of prayer has expanded. Our time of walking on the earth is connected. It’s a love connection, a bond with spirit that you don’t ever want to forget. Our world very much needs to pray. And Lauren understands that and when you are with Lauren you understand that’s how she walks in this world. There’s a joy and a peace and a passion with her and you can almost see the aura of that. I wanted to support that.
I didn’t necessarily want to be the person who went out and did that but I wanted to support that.I know that all people seek the divine mystery in the world, looking for peace in life. The labyrinth offers that to all people. It doesn’t matter what denomination or religion you are, or a person of no faith. It does assist you in that journey of connecting with the peace, with the divine in a powerful way. I want to support that work in the world because there are people who are seeking everywhere. You can’t put it in a box. What I love about the labyrinth is that you find it at hospitals and prisons and airports. Not only in churches but in public places amongst the business people of the world, and amongst the children and it’s everywhere. It offers its energy to all people and I think that’s vital in our world. It helps to stop the competitiveness in the world and focuses on the sameness of all people. We all seek the same thing in the end.
Global Healing Response
The Global Healing Response, founded in 2005 by Council member Ellen Bintz Meuch, offers an annual theme and quarterly ideas and information to enrich labyrinth walks. The GHR theme for 2014 is Unity and the focus for this quarter is Compassion /Understanding. The quote “Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.”undefined J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The third quarter is posted on the website, www.globalhealingresponse.com. We encourage you to visit the site soon and often.
Little Miracles on the Path
Each month, Linda Mikell, secretary to the Veriditas Council and New England Regional Representative, emails a Little Miracles on the Path story to 439 facilitators who have signed up for them. Facilitators from all over the world send her stories about interesting, touching events that happen at their labyrinth walks. If you would like to receive these stories, please contact Linda (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please don’t forget to send your story when you have one. Little Miracles are archived on the Facilitators Portal of the Veriditas Website.