My experience is that labyrinths build community as certainly as communities build labyrinths.
We spent last weekend at Woodbrooke Quaker Retreat Centre in the company of a dozen or so people who came together for the express purpose of creating a canvas labyrinth that could be used for future Woodbrooke programs and courses. Woodbrooke is located in the village of Bournville, near Birmingham, in what was once the home of the Cadbury chocolate family. SInce 1903, it has been run as a Quaker educational centre for those of any faith or none. Not being Quaker myself, I wasn’t sure what to expect, and what I found was community. Their use of the word Friend runs deeply through every tenet of the Centre — everyone I met was treated as one would treat a beloved heart-friend.
While the centre already has a beautifully mown Chartres style labyrinth in the grounds, the primary goal of our weekend course was to draw and paint a 6.5 metre canvas labyrinth for indoor use in both residential and distance courses. Individual labyrinth-making was also highlighted, with an art room full of supplies provided for our creative pleasure. By the second day, labyrinths were appearing, as if by magic, around the grounds, enhancing the natural beauty that is already there:
Meanwhile, in the art room, our painters were hard at work, but that will be a story for another day. This post is outgrowing itself, so I’ll introduce the new canvas labyrinth in a post all of its own.