Title

Living the labyrinth : a journey toward new life in community.

Date of Award

5-1-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

School

Drew Theological School

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

Abstract

The context of this project is that of a small liberal arts college, Wilson College, at a time of uncertainty and change. In a place where the perception of scarcity is the norm, the concept of abundance can seem beyond reach. This scarcity relates to spiritual as well as financial resources since living from one's spiritual center is more challenging when the system is under stress. In terms of practical ministry, the community had need of intentional support for fostering a safe environment where spirit could flourish. The project focused on building and strengthening social capital and community fabric by offering community members the experience of journeying together in new ways that counter and transcend the prevailing narratives. The overarching image of the semester-long project was that of labyrinth. The labyrinth is an archetypal symbol that stands in stark contrast to that of a maze where there are forced choices, fear, confusion, dead ends, and a sense of being lost. The labyrinth has a single path that leads inexorably, however circuitously, to the center: a metaphor for our spiritual pilgrimage. Rather than explaining these themes in a didactic way, The Labyrinth Project was designed to engage imagination and expansive images to experience the concept of labyrinth at an individual and a community level. This involved shared table fellowship, workshops, worship, art making, and creative writing, retreat and, on World Labyrinth Day, creation of a temporary community labyrinth. This temporary labyrinth was a symbol of the ongoing nature of the project, which extends beyond building a labyrinth, or even walking a labyrinth, to living the labyrinth within the College setting. The process involved appreciative inquiry and exploring the possibilities of preferred futures with a focus, at each step, on the well-being of the whole community. Evaluation involved an understanding that the campus context does not need to dictate the community culture. In the narrative landscape of the project, the researcher and the Local Advisory Committee discovered intersections between individual and community journeys that resulted in new possibilities and frames of reference.