| Veriditas Turns 20 this year!
Global Healing Response
Little Miracles on the Path
Japanese Translation of Lauren's Book
Veriditas is turning 20 this year. May 24, 1995 was the day our Articles of Incorporation were signed. Lauren was active developing work with the labyrinth before that date through her work as a Canon Pastor at Grace Cathedral, but we were born as VERIDITAS
We have grown so much over the last 20 years! Our first mission statement focused on "peppering the planet with labyrinths" and after several other mission statements along the way, we now are "dedicated to inspiring personal and planetary change and renewal through the labyrinth experience." We accomplish our mission by training and supporting labyrinth facilitators around the world, and by offering meaningful events that promote further understanding of the labyrinth as a tool for personal and community transformation. Our larger vision is that the labyrinth experience guides us in developing the higher level of human awareness needed to thrive in the 21st century. We believe the labyrinth is a powerful tool and has been changing many lives since its resurgence in the Western World.
We want you to join us in celebrating our birthday this summer at our August 14 and 15 "Veriditas at 20" event at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. We're planning an exciting day of renewal, connection and celebration around the labyrinth. We ask that you SAVE the DATE and begin to think about "how the labyrinth has changed you" as we'll be collecting your stories in the months ahead.
Dawn Matheny, PhD
My first interview of 2015 is with Mary Ellen Weber. Mary Ellen is a Veriditas certified facilitator and Spiritual Director who lives in Washington State near Seattle with her own labyrinth in her backyard. As a generous monthly Sustaining Giver she is an enthusiastic supporter of Veriditas.
Rita: When did you first encounter the labyrinth?
It was in the early 2000’s. One of my earliest labyrinth walks was at the Boulders resort in Arizona. During that walk I received a very clear message “you don’t have to figure it all out”. At the time I was in graduate school at Seattle University studying for a degree in spiritual studies and spiritual direction. I was wrestling with big theological questions and struggling to articulate the answers. I was so in my head. When I walked that labyrinth and heard that message it just reminded me to get out of my head and let the questions settle. My spiritual growth has always been through reading and studying, questioning, wanting to know and struggling to articulate it to others. The message I received in the labyrinth invited me to let go of all that thinking and allow for another way of knowing. That was my first real experience of the labyrinth, one of the most influential experiences of my spiritual path.
Rita: How did you get involved with Veriditas?
I just knew that I wanted to have this practice in my life and have this tool in my toolbox as a spiritual director and to invite others into the labyrinth experience because it is transformational. What I discovered is that the people that I work with, and people in general, are so hungry for experiences of the divine, of the sacred. We need spiritual practices to help us connect to our deepest selves so that we can more and more live from that place. I knew I wanted to become a facilitator in order to bring the labyrinth to others. I took the Facilitator training in 2008 at Grace Cathedral from Lauren.Rita: Will you talk about the inspiration for and work you have done with the labyrinth?
Mary Ellen: The bigger picture is that I have named my spiritual direction practice “GrowingAwake”. To me it’s about awakening to the Divine Presence within yourself and all around us. We’re soaking in this Presence yet often we are asleep to it. In addition to one-on-one spiritual direction, I also work with small groups and offer workshops and retreats.
Sharing the labyrinth is one piece of what I do. And it’s a very important piece. To me the labyrinth involves the three movements of awakening, of the spiritual journey. That is, first, the path in, which is all the inner work. And then, second, it’s finding the center, the place of grounding, the place of the Eternal within us. And, last, the path back out moves us into the world.The quote that I often use from Lauren is “The labyrinth is a watering hole for the spirit and a mirror for the soul”. To me that sums it up perfectly. An opportunity to nourish our spirit, a container to do the inner work and then a mirror that helps us pay attention to our life. I am part of a group that does open walks at a church in Seattle. I’ve also facilitated labyrinth walks in a variety of settings including churches, retreat centers and Seattle University. I bring small groups to my labyrinth and other labyrinths in the area. I’ve also used the labyrinth in my work with recovering addicts at the Recovery Cafe. I found that the labyrinth helps people who are struggling with the chaos of addiction. If you add homelessness on top of addiction it gets very chaotic and the labyrinth provides a way to help quiet the mind and to step out of that chaos. It’s amazing!Rita: Do you have a story to tell us about your experience of the labyrinth?
This is my favorite labyrinth story! There’s an outdoor labyrinth at Unity Church in Bellevue that I used to walk regularly before I built my own. It happens to be next door to a day care center. Once I was walking it by myself. It’s in a beautiful area with trees in a lovely setting. The children from the day care center next door came out to play on their playground. Suddenly I heard a little voice from a young boy who said “Are your eyes shut?” “Yes, kind of” I replied. “How come?” he asked. “Well. I’m praying”. “God’s not in there (meaning the labyrinth)”, he said. Then I stopped and looked at him and said “Oh, yes. God is everywhere.” And he said (and this is no lie) “even in me?” And I looked at him and said “Especially in you”. Then he ran off to play. I felt that we were planted there that day. Both of us for each other.Rita: Why do you donate to Veriditas?
I see that the labyrinth is almost a counterweight to the intense technology that people are caught up in with all the social media and constantly checking email and texts and twitter. The labyrinth offers people a way to unplug. Walking the labyrinth is a counter balance to the frenzy of being overly connected to social media. I’ve been involved in nonprofits for many years and I know the importance of having a money stream that you can count on. It’s about putting your money where your mouth is. It’s something that I value and see is so needed in the world. I went to Chartres in 2012 and spent time with Lauren and Dawn. These are quality people that are doing a great job of putting the labyrinth out in the world. Veriditas is so valuable and well run. I support it so that it can continue to do its work.
As we begin 2015, may I introduce Jo Ann Mast, Veriditas Master Teacher and Council member.
Jo Ann has been a part of Veriditas for much of its 20-year history.
Did you find the labyrinth or did it find you?
The short answer --it found me. It was February 1998 when Reverend Dr. Lauren Artress and Theologian, Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral, were offering a seminar on the “ Light and Dark of Spirit.” Alan spoke on the theology of religion, and Lauren spoke of mysticism that was missing in religion. Lauren captured my attention. Mysticism was missing in my life too. I was living and working in San Francisco in a world of numbers, finance, transactions, dealing with Fortune 500 companies on their investment offerings to employees, and traveling extensively. There were no mystics around, let alone mysticism. That day I experienced my first labyrinth walk on the beautiful carpet labyrinth in Grace Cathedral with the sun shining through the stained glass windows, pouring amazing light onto the labyrinth. Since that day, my life has never been the same.
Was there a moment when you knew the labyrinth would be an important part of your life?
Absolutely. When I returned from Chartres, I related my extraordinary experience to my mother. It was one of our most meaningful conversations a mother and daughter could have. Two weeks later on September 2nd, she died of a heart attack. After her sudden death, I found labyrinths to walk while I processed her death. The labyrinth and music sustained me during that time. I continued my investment work and, in addition, chose to do my own work with the labyrinth before taking facilitator training. The Veriditas community became my community. With renewed energy, I volunteered with labyrinth walks. Several of us “labyrinth enthusiasts” in the San Francisco area met once a month to walk the labyrinth and have dinner together. This group became my labyrinth family, and many of us are still in touch. The labyrinth had become my touchstone.
When and how did you intensify your involvement with Veriditas?
At some point I knew it was time to become a trained facilitator and completed my certification. I met Marge McCarthy and was asked to be on the Veriditas Board of Directors in 2001. One of my areas of focus on the Board was to help clarify the roles of Veriditas and The Labyrinth Society (TLS) in the formation of the Worldwide Labyrinth Locator. Each had a different emphasis in their labyrinth work; many people were members of both groups. I worked on the finalization of the contract between these two organizations.What do you consider major turning points in your nearly 20-year experience with Veriditas?
While I was a Board member, an important turning point occurred. Veriditas realized that it needed to deal with the issue of broadening the focus of the labyrinth to the secular world. This involved the possibility of moving the office from Grace Cathedral, with its religious foundation, to a more secular location. We needed to find a home for Veriditas. Veriditas moved their offices to the Presidio in 2004 and then moved again in 2009 to their current location in Petaluma, sharing facilities with the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS).
In 2004 Lauren initiated the formation of the Veriditas Council; I was a member of the Board and Council for two years. As the Council evolved, I was able to be a bridge between the two groups. In 2006, after two terms on the Board, I realized that I was losing my personal relationship with the labyrinth and resigned. I transitioned to the Council and, soon thereafter, I was transferred with my investment work to Denver, Colorado. I thought I was moving to “mission territory” for the labyrinth.
What has been your greatest challenge in your work with the labyrinth?
That very move. I soon realized that Colorado was not mission territory, however, I no longer had a sustaining community. I knew no one involved with the labyrinth and had no time to build a new community around me. However, my personal use of the labyrinth moved into the forefront of my life, which helped me immeasurably. In my business travels, I researched and walked many local labyrinths. The labyrinth always reminded me that all I have to do is to place one foot in front of the other and keep grounded.
How did you reconnect with Veriditas?
Fast forward six or seven months. The Episcopal Church held its annual convention in Denver, and I learned that the Sisters of Charity had a labyrinth and Veriditas had a booth. I located the labyrinth, tucked away in a corner of an immense room, and saw curious onlookers milling around it. I turned quickly and encountered Lauren, who asked me if I were in charge of the labyrinth. Answer: “I guess I am now.” Working together, we helped the process of encouraging the interested people to walk the labyrinth. This experience was a definite bridge between San Francisco and Denver, reconnecting me to the labyrinth. I was asked to assist churches in Boulder and Denver in pursuing their dreams of having labyrinths and working together in post-9/11 activities. This included hand-painting a permanent labyrinth on the floor of the First United Methodist Church of Boulder. This ultimately led to a more active labyrinth community in Colorado.
How has your 2013 move from Denver to Santa Fe affected your labyrinth work?
What visions do you have for your future, with the labyrinth and otherwise?
Memories of teaching my first facilitator training in Boulder, Colorado in 2009 hold my vision for the future. It was a powerful group of 16 women, one brave man, and an extremely courageous hearing-impaired young woman from Gulattia College in Washington D.C. Everyone’s experience was enhanced and deepened through the presence of interpreters, large and small group work, acceptance of one another, growing, learning and being present to one another. As the teacher, I simply held space, shared information, and witnessed the power of acceptance, caring and nurturing each other in the classroom and with labyrinth walks. Live music enhanced the labyrinth experiences, especially for the young hearing-impaired woman. She felt the vibration of the healing bowls and the live harp music. I was brought to tears as she told me, “I was born hearing-impaired with one song in my heart. Now I carry two songs in my heart.” This is the future of the labyrinth for me.
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 2015 is Restoration
“All the beauty that’s been lost before wants to find us again” ― U2. The focus for this quarter is Reflection (Self and World). Quote: I believe that our society is merely a reflection of what is going on inside each and every one of us —Seal.;
By focusing on Reflection (Self and World) this quarter perhaps we will find strength and creative ideas for implementing Restoration. Thank you for joining us and creating a circle of global healing with the labyrinth! —Ellen Bintz Meuch
Take a look at GHR's beautiful new 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 (email@example.com).
Please don’t forget to send your story when you have one. Little Miracles are archived on the Facilitators Portal of the Veriditas Website.
A Japanese translation of Lauren Artress’ Walking a Sacred Path was published last December by Sophia University in Tokyo. The translation was done by Richard Gardner and Mitsuyo Takeda, Veriditas trained facilitators. The book also includes an introduction for Japanese readers as well as an appendix presenting the experience of people who have walked the labyrinth in Japan. At present, very few people in Japan are aware of the growing interest in labyrinths and the Chartres Labyrinth in particular. It is hoped that this translation might spur interest in the labyrinth in Japan. The book is currently available through Amazon Japan. The book contains a number of photos, including some in full color, and is very reasonably priced.
The Japanese title is 聖なる道を歩く(Seinaru Michi o Aruku) but a search with the English title will lead to the Japanese translation. Please recommend to any readers of Japanese with an interest in the labyrinth.