Labyrinth promotes steps toward peace at Oklahoma City YWCA domestic violence shelter

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.
by Carla Hinton Published: July 26, 2014


photo - 
The Rev. Susan Joplin, a canon at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, walks the labyrinth she helped design for the YWCA’s Passageways Shelter in Oklahoma City. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman
  Jim Beckel
The Rev. Susan Joplin, a canon at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, walks the labyrinth she helped design for the YWCA’s Passageways Shelter in Oklahoma City. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman Jim Beckel

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

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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Did you know?

Many people confuse labyrinths and mazes. Here is how they vary:

A labyrinth is an archetypal pattern with a unicursal path, which leads to the center and back out again. A labyrinth, with one path, is designed to empty and calm the mind. One path in, the same path out.

A maze is multicursal, which means it is a complex network of paths or passages. It involves choices to make and is intended to trick the mind like a riddle.

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