Survivors of domestic violence are connecting with an ancient symbol designed to promote peace and restoration of the soul.
The new HealingPath Labyrinth, recently dedicated on the grounds of the YWCA of Oklahoma City’s Passageways Shelter, was created through a partnership between the YWCA, St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral and the Kirkpatrick Foundation.
The Rev. Susan Joplin, a canon at St. Paul’s, said the labyrinth came to fruition as part of St. Paul’s ongoing support of the YWCA shelter.
Joplin, a certified labyrinth walk facilitator, said she helped design the shelter’s 11-circuit labyrinth, which is patterned after the labyrinth at the Chartres Cathedral in France. The Chartres labyrinth was built in 1201 and is one of the most famous labyrinths in the world.
Joplin said labyrinths were used in the Middle Ages by Christians who walked the circuitous pathways when it became too dangerous to make the spiritual journey to Jerusalem during the Crusades. She said labyrinths in cathedrals such as Chartres were designed so the Christian pilgrims could take symbolic walks along a sacred path.
Both Joplin and Jan Peery, the YWCA’s executive director, said the new labyrinth fits well with the Y’s mission to help domestic violence survivors journey from pain to peace.
“I began thinking any labyrinth walk is a metaphor for our lives,” Joplin said.
“People coming from broken situations where everything has been stripped away need a place where a calm can be restored. To me, it seemed a perfect fit.”
Peery expressed similar sentiments.
“This gives one more opportunity for people to have a space for reflection,” Peery said.
“When they come, they are in crisis. This is a place where you are surrounded by trees, by nature. It’s a respite.”
A sacred space