Friday, September 4, 2015

Labyrinths, Journeys to Inner Peace

Rev. Cannon Susan Joplin introduced labyrinths to UD, MD and LD chapels on 9/3/2015.  After learning what labyrinths were, students and faculty from various divisions experienced labyrinth walks facilitated by Mother Susan and members of Saint Paul's Episcopal Labyrinth Steering Committee.  There were two labyrinths to choose; an indoor one at the Chapel Transept and an outdoor one, painted on grass in front of the Butterfly Garden.

On August 31st, Mother Susan with labyrinth drawing expert, Dr. Diane Rudebock and Mr. Mark Coate produced in a few hours the royal blue Butterfly Garden Labyrinth, which will welcome Peace Week 2015 walkers and pinwheels for peace during the 11 Days of Global Unity from 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance to 9/21 United Nations International Day of Peace.

The Labyrinths @ Casady Day began at 7:15 am when YAC Planning and Peace Week teams helped Mother Susan unfold the indoor labyrinth and placed carefully drafted labyrinth guides at chapel pews.

The YAC members were the first to experience the Butterfly Garden Labyrinth

 Saint Paul's Episcopal Labyrinth's Steering Committee joined Mother Susan during the UD Chapel at 8:00 am.  Labyrinth walks went on from 10:00 to 4:00 PM.

 Middle Division @ Outdoor Labyrinth

 Middle Division students stated,
"It was really calming and peaceful and quiet.  I got to think about stuff. It was just cool.  I liked a lot!"
 "I loved it a lot."
"I got to walk around .  "I thought about my life and the Lord."
"I prayed for two people I know to get better"
"It really gave me time to relax during the school day, to think about my life, things that you love, things in the past"
"I really enjoyed it.  It allowed me to think about things around me, to think about the future, about the good times I had in the past and how to improve the future.  Make myself better.  I realized how much I love my family and friends."

 Middle Division @ Indoor Labyrinth

Lower Division, After School Care, had hands on activities to discover the differences between labyrinth and maze before walking the outdoor labyrinth.  Ms. Maryam Sontag facilitated the After School care labyrinth experience.  Before sending children on walks, Ms. Sontag stated, "On the way in, think about your special gifts.  On the way out think about the ways that you can help someone else with your special gifts."

After the walk, Ms. Sontag stated, "We opened the labyrinth and we have to close it now.  You will skip the outside of the labyrinth in a counter clock wise manner."  After the skip, the closing prayer was: "Thank you God for making me, One of a Kind.  Help me remember to use my gifts to help others."

Students reflected their experience at the Gazebo.  One student stated, "It was like in chapel.  It was just outside."

An e-mail from the first grade:

"I wanted to share with you the thanks of my first graders (and me) for having Mother Susan speak to us in chapel and for the labyrinth. 

My seventeen students and I waited until the day after Mother Susan's chapel talk to look at and and discuss the information in the brochure, but before that we practiced mindfulness with our beautiful Tibetan bowl and spoke the words "I breathe in peace, I breathe out love." Then when we were calm and focused, I read the brochure to them. 

After we talked about the many, many things that we are thankful for, we walked over to the labyrinth and walked single file through it while saying aloud anything we thought of for which to thankful. One of my favorites was a little boy who said, "My mother's kisses." There were so many sweet thoughts of love shared during our walk. 

When we finished, the children couldn't believe how long the actual walk through the labyrinth really took - it looked so much smaller until we were on our journey. We all had a wonderful time, and as we walked back to our lower division building, one of the children said, "I'm thankful for air conditioning!" We all agreed.
Thank you so much. It was a beautiful experience to have with my sweet children."

Through the day, faculty and UD students experienced the labyrinth on their own.

Thank you to the Primary Division Faculty who stated last May that the one new thing they would love to see for Peace Week 2015 was a labyrinth on campus! 

The Primary Division follows Maria Montessori's mission that "World Peace Begins in the Classroom."  

A Primary Division Pinwheel for Peace welcomed walkers to the labyrinth!

A note from the LD Art Teacher

 "I've been taking my 1st and 3rd graders to walk the labyrinth and we've gotten some pretty great discussions from it. I LOVE that labyrinth. I actually found a lasagna recipe on the grass in there yesterday. Haha we all thought that was kinda funny."

Story Stones
During Peace Week,
Third Grade students experienced a walk through our temporary labyrinth that was hand painted near the Butterfly Garden.

A walk through the labyrinth led to a great discussion in art class about how sometimes when we follow a path it seems to take us close to where we want to go and then sometimes we are redirected. That is true for artists, too, and we discussed how often times our artwork evolves as we work through the process. We discussed trusting our feet to follow the path and that it would lead us to the center of the labyrinth.  We talked about trusting our hands to create a design for this story stone. After the design was created, the students were asked to think of ways they can show more kindness each day to lead to being a more peaceful person. The very personal ideas they came up with ranged being more environmentally friendly, taking better care of themselves, taking time to breathe when they get upset, or being nicer to their siblings.

What their design represents to them is the “story” of their stone. The stones are going to live in our “Story Stone Garden” outside of the art classroom. This picture will remind them of how the art we create can hold deep personal meaning as well as a way for them to be peaceful everyday.

Megan Thompson
Casady School
Lower Division Fine Arts