A maize maze

On the grass in front of Walker last Wednesday afternoon, nine students braved the chill for a higher purpose. Members of Brent House, the Episcopal Center on campus, they were hosting a labyrinth walk for students and passersby.

“It’s a spiritual meditative practice,” said Katy Fallon, ’10, “and an ancient metaphor for life.” The labyrinth consisted of a circular pathway—sprinkled lines of cornmeal so the birds and squirrels could later consume it—that wound around itself, changing directions many times before reaching the center. Spanning only 10 yards, the complex maze required five or 10 minutes to navigate.


Although the labyrinth is a “tool used in Christianity and other religions,” Fallon explained, the event was not meant to push students toward any particular practice. Brent House organizes a labyrinth walk every fall and spring quarter, skipping winter for obvious reasons. Usually arranged in front of Classics—that quad is currently under construction—the walk provides students an opportunity to step out of their hectic academic lives. The organizers offer hot chocolate or some other treat for meditators; Wednesday’s reward was a plate of homemade cookies at the maze’s center.

“You can go into it and think about whatever you want,” said Brent House member Nick Currie, ’11, after completing the circuit. Currie was one of the hosts; he noted that it was important for them to remember to participate and not just invite others. “The idea," he said, "is to center yourself and recognize that you’re on a journey of some kind.”

The maze—advertised via e-mail—attracted a handful of participants throughout the day, and even some unintentional ones, said Brent House intern Ben Varnum, AB’06, a third-year student in the Divinity School. “Some people walked across, on a mission, and then all of a sudden they looked up and realized they were in it.” Although some kept to their accustomed path, others chose to join the maze they’d stumbled upon.

“We didn’t mind,” Varnum said, “but in general we preferred students to start at the beginning” and follow the lines.

Shira Tevah, '09

Nick Currie, '11, walks through the labyrinth.

October 28, 2008