Saturday, April 26, 2008

New Orleanians find solace walking in circles

One of the improvements to Audubon Park after the storm was a labyrinth made of stones, providing a path for walking meditation. Someone - I don't remember who - said to me, it would never have been built here before the storm. I suppose that meant folks used to relax and reflect by sitting outside on the porch or having a cocktail.

But, now, almost every time I pass the labyrinth, there is at least one person slowly and silently making the circle to the center and back.

I've seen weddings at the labyrinth. I've seen a memorial service. I even saw someone once sitting on a bench playing a violin.

The dedication plaque says the labyrinth is a symbol of hope and renewal offered to the City of New Orleans following the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"As our community rebuilds, so also, our citizens must rebuild their souls," it says.

"The Labyrinth is an ancient tool which provides a sacred place for meditation, centering and healing. At the entrance is a small Labyrinth known as the Classical Seven Circuit. This pattern dates to 2000 B.C. The large Labyrinth is a replica from the Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France, built in 1203 A.D. It has eleven circuits leading to the center.

All people and cultures are invited to journey here. There is no right or wrong way to walk a Labyrinth. There are no tricks or decisions, just follow the single path, one foot in front of the other, until you reach the center. Return along the same path.

A Labyrinth is a walking meditation. As in life, you will encounter many turns. Trust the path. May this become the perfect place for transformation that honors hope and celebrates new beginnings."

Offered by the Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress, founder of Veriditas; Voice of the Labyrinth Movement and Father Francois Legaux Canon, Chartres Cathedral

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