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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Reflections from UST Labyrinth installation

A lone labyrinth walker (Photo taken from Dr. Mauer's office in Herrick Hall/ (c) PLM)
It's been a busy month and I'm just getting around to reflecting on the labyrinth installation I did at the University of St. Thomas almost three weeks ago.  Other than pondering if I answered the question of "Did I pick the correct present to pay attention to in the meantime?" I'm really grateful for the opportunity to install an unusual temporary design in a beautiful and interesting space with materials that were new to me. 

Special shout-outs to ...

Labyrinth installer's selfie: 
Conie, Francis, and Erika
  • Dr. Erika Scheuer, English professor and member of the Project for Mindfulness and Contemplation, who volunteered me for the project, crawled on the ground for a solid hour to help lay flagging tape with a smile, and brought classes to walk it during the week
  • Francis Gurtz, who drove two hours to participate in the installation on Monday and then returned the next day and offered to play music with his hung drum and native flute for a class walk.  Your gentle and generous spirit has been a huge influence to me!
  • Birdie Cunningham and Chris Fischer, staff from the Wellness Center, who helped facilitate logistics with the Grounds crew and promotions, along with Valerie Boyd, who took my words and designed beautiful yard signs
  • Roger Weinbrenner, Grounds Guru for his support and ideas
  • Dr. Steve Mauer and Sheila Kaufer, from Counseling and Psychological Services, who allowed me to take aerial photos without climbing a tree, using a drone, or a really long selfie stick. 
    Dr. Scibora's Personal Health & Wellness class
  • Dr. Lesley Scibora and her freshman Personal Health and Wellness class for meeting me for a facilitated walk and talking about their experiences of walking a labyrinth and tracing smaller ones with their fingers. 
  • Lisa Gidlow Moriarty of Paths of Peace, local labyrinth expert, who so graciously joined me for a site visit, answered random questions, and suggested the double back-to-back labyrinth design I installed.  Inspired genius. 
  • For all the walkers, known and unknown, who visited the Peace Garden tucked behind Saint Thomas Aquinas Chapel, including Fr. David Smith, David Jenkins, the professor from Physics, and students who walked by with enthusiasm and encouragement during the installation or decommissioning. 
Here are photos from the installation ...

It was my first time installing a labyrinth with flagging tape as the lead. Last year, I attended a half day workshop by Lars Howlett of Discover Labyrinths before the Labyrinth Society gathering where I learned some quick and easy techniques.  Not only did I walk away empowered with possibility, but also a love of friction pens (yes!  pens with ink you can erase!)

If any of this makes you want to build a labyrinth in your backyard, church parking lot, or , reach out and let's talk! 

Here's more photos from the class walk ...

More photos from the decommissioning ...

My favorite part of the decommissioning was noticing how the paths showed its use with matting down of the grass with the weight of the visitors' feet and what Francis called a "labyrinthine ghost."

A post shared by Conie Borchardt (@pointsoflight_mu) on

May all who walked this labyrinth experience some relief, some sense of placement in their own larger story, an opportunity to feel, listen, and be heard. 

Installation details:
  • Commissioned by the Project for Mindfulness and Contemplation and Wellness Center at the University of St. Thomas for Mindfulness Week, October 9-13, 2017
  • Design: adapted 5-circuit Classical, back-to-back double (yes, two!) with 30" wide paths and a shared entrance procession
  • Materials:  white flagging tape (approx. 400-500'), 2" roofing nails (approx. 500)
  • Installed:  Monday, October 9, 2017
  • Decommissioned: Friday, October 13, 2017

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