Photo by Molly McWilliams Wilkins.
The brick pattern on the ground at Mulberry Street United Methodist Church in Macon, Ga., may strike many people as just a clever design, but the purposeful lines in gray and tan are so much more: a call to slow down and to share a common experience with neighbors.
Last week the Macon League of Creative Interventionists invited local residents to take a break from the frenetic pace of their daily lives to explore the stone labyrinth. The chapter formed earlier this spring during a Knight Foundation-supported visit by artist Hunter Franks, who founded the League of Creative Interventionists, an international network that aims to break down social barriers within communities. Each month the league celebrates a global theme. For June it was “slow.”
“Life gets busy. We get so wrapped up in day-to-day responsibilities; we forget to take time to slow down and relax,” said Deonna Belcher, a member of the Macon League who assisted in organizing the event. “Everyone needs down time, time to simply be and breathe.”
The labyrinth offers people a chance to do just that. Last year when the church needed to repair a patio, they decided to build the labyrinth as a replacement and open it for community use, said Ann Smith, the church’s spiritual director.
“We would be happy for it to be used 24 hours, seven days a week,” she said. “People can do the guided walks and I am available to assist with that, even just for a one-on-one tour.”
Smith said the labyrinth is identical to one at the Cathedral of St. Phillip in Atlanta.
“We thought it was a perfect opportunity to introduce the local labyrinth at Mulberry Methodist Church,” Belcher said. The maze was finished in November.
For two hours on June 25, those walking the labyrinth were provided with an entrance point and had to follow the path looking down, not unlike the daily activity of strolling a street while staring down at the latest text message or email on a cellphone. But instead of getting caught up in technology they had to concentrate on walking, meditating on the way forward as they took the small steps necessary to stay on the path.
“Labyrinths have been used for centuries as places for walking meditation, reflection, prayer or just for fun,” Belcher said.
The event at coincided with Mulberry Market, a weekly organic farmers’ market organized by Community Health Works. The Macon League of Creative Interventionists also provided ice cream and other refreshments at the labyrinth.
Belcher said The Macon Roving Listeners, another group that encourages building community, assisted with the event.
Kathy Langdon, a recent transplant to Macon from New York, was one of the many drawn to to both shop the market and walk the labyrinth.
“It was great to see both the kids and adults having fun together making ice cream, drawing with chalk and playing games,” she said. “Community events like this help to bridge age gaps.”
Molly McWilliams Wilkins is a freelance writer in Macon, Ga. You can follow her on Twitter: @MakeItWorkMolly.