The Reed Labyrinth Reappears for Reunion Week

Six weeks ago a walking labyrinth magically appeared in time for Earth Week and Renn Fayre on the South Lawn. Scores of Reedies – students, staff, faculty, and campus guests – intrigued by the labyrinth’s curious shape, braved the cold and wet to slowly saunter back and forth through the labyrinth’s twists and turns. For me, it was an exercise in personal exploration, not unlike walking meditation, an opening to whatever might appear. And it also became the beginning of a wonderful, ongoing conversation with the driving energy behind the Reed labyrinth, Gary Granger. Although I had worked alongside Gary for many years, I had not realized that Gary wore two hats at Reed: Director of Community Safety and the teacher of Mindful Walking at Reed (available to students as a physical education class).

Recently, Gary, the Keeper of the Reed Labyrinth, informed me that the labyrinth will be reappearing this week in time for the Reed Reunion. Here are some useful details:

  • Location – As before, on the South Lawn between Eliot and the flagpole.
  • DatesTh-Su, June 8-11. Installation will take place on the afternoon and evening of the 8th, and deconstruction will take place some time on M, June 12.
  • Availability – The labyrinth will be open for exploration to all comers, as before, with one exception. Gary will be offering a labyrinth walking class to Reunion attendees on F, June 9, 1-2:30 pm, “Mindful Walking: Seven Directions Meditation, and Labyrinths, Bound and Unbound” and labyrinth access will be limited to those attending the class. Learn more about the class and how to sign up for it here. In addition to leading this class, Gary informed me that he will maintain a presence near the labyrinth for a substantial part of Friday, both before and after the class, and will be available to chat with anyone who shows up.
  • Materials & Design – The original labyrinth was outlined with cornmeal (aka “goose food”), but the new labyrinth will be outlined with a more durable and reusable material. Gary will be placing roughly 1,000 small wooden disks, all produced from fallen branches in the woods near Gary’s home, to create the design. The shape of this labyrinth will duplicate the one used by its predecessor. Both shapes were created for Reed’s use by Lars Howlett of Veriditas and are based on a traditional Baltic Wheel design. The 3 images displayed at the bottom show what a “test” pattern of wooden disks look like, the conceptual design of the Reed labyrinth, and the original Reed labyrinth (photo 4/21/23). (6/10/23 note: Gary sent me some photos of the new labyrinth after it was completed on 6/8. I’ve added one of these photos under the other three.)
  • Inspiration – I asked Gary to tell me a little about how the Reed labyrinth came to be and how his background led him in this direction. Here is his response: “As part of my walking practice exploration I had imagined having a labyrinth at Reed for a number of years but didn’t conceive of a way to make it a reality. In late winter Yasodha [Y. Gopal, Assoc. Dean of Students for Health and Wellbeing] and I were in a meeting and discussing her ideas for promoting wellbeing for students on campus when she mentioned having seen information about Lars and his work at colleges installing labyrinths. We immediately discussed our shared visions and set the plan in motion as a collaboration between Health & Wellbeing and Community Safety. [Together, Yasodha and I] conceived of having a labyrinth at Reed for Earth week and Renn Fayre.” Gary also shared this: “Although I was a physical part of the conception and original installation, I now see myself as a Keeper of the Labyrinth that the three of us, Yasodha, Lars, and I, jointly created. … I don’t know that much needs to be said/written beyond what’s above. … I’ve been at Reed since 2010, and started teaching PE classes centering on mindful walking in 2020. Beyond that, I’m simply a person who walks.”

6/10/23 addition: The following image shows the new “Reunion” labyrinth. See Comments for reactions and more information about the labyrinth’s construction.

2 thoughts on “The Reed Labyrinth Reappears for Reunion Week

  1. alan Post author

    Comments have been coming my way – Alan. Here’s one from Lee, a neighbor of Reed and one of our weekly meditators:

    “I just returned from the Labyrinth. First, I walked it slowly, with my head in the game, wondering if and how I would reach “the center”. Reading the discs hanging on the tree at the end of the path, I realized I should release my head and thoughts and walk it again in a slow rhythm of steps and breaths. It was a lovely, quiet journey of slowing down, noticing the uneven soft grass beneath my feet, the fresh air in abundance around me, the sweet casual breeze, and the sounds of birds and raucous, happy students. Joy of a perfect afternoon.

    Thank you, Alan, for alerting me of the Reed Labyrinth. Thank you, Gary, for constructing it again this year.” (rcv’d Sat, 6/10/23)

  2. alan Post author

    And a follow-up from Gary G., received on Th, 6/8/23, shortly after he had completed the labyrinth’s construction (and he sent along some photos, one of which I have posted; see above).

    “The labyrinth has been revived and I look forward to spending there with folks tomorrow. I used 674 disks for the basic design–one step, one breath, one disk placed. Then I enhanced portions with more for a grand total of 1,044. It was a lovely afternoon meditation!”

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