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'Go in what ever way you want': Labyrinth Day in Vancouver

There is no one way to walk a labyrinth
Sally Hull is the Keeper of the Labyrinth at St. Paul’s Anglican Church. It is a replica of the 13th Century labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France.

The first time Sally Hull walked a labyrinth, she thought she was doing something wrong.

It seemed to be taking forever to get to the centre of the path that wound in and around itself in a seemingly endless loop.

Once again, the voice inside her head was one of self-doubt. Then, when she finally made it to the centre, “I realized that if I had just trusted myself, I would end up where I was supposed to be.

“To me, that was profound. I can still doubt myself but I’m aware that I don’t have to. I can pause, really look at what’s going on, and then go in a direction that I think might be a good one. At least I should try it out because, most likely, it will turn out to be a good one.”

Twenty-five years later, Hull is the Keeper of the Labyrinth at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Vancouver’s West End. On May 4, it’s hosting an immersive event as part of International Labyrinth Day, dovetailing with an event as part of Jane’s Walk. The doors to the church hall will open at 12:30 and, at one o’clock, participants will join people around the world in walking a labyrinth with an intention of peace. The event ends at two.

There is no one way to walk a labyrinth, says Hull, who later in life earned an MA in using the labyrinth as a leadership tool.

“Go in whatever way you want. That’s the magic of it,” she says.

Release, receive, return: The stages of walking a labyrinth

Before you start on the path, however, it’s best to pause and reflect on what you want out of the experience. Maybe it’s just to revel in the peacefulness of looking down at your feet as you stay within the lines painted on the church hall’s floor. Maybe you’re grappling with a decision or an emotional hardship.

Hull likes the approach she learned as part of her Veriditas leadership training at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. Start walking the labyrinth with an intention of release — releasing thought, releasing worry, releasing the demands of your busy life. When you’re in the centre, sit or stand for a few moments of reflection so you can receive the message of your inner thoughts. Then, on the way out, return to your life with a sense of well-being, calm, and peace that can come from simply allowing yourself to be in that moment. Release, receive, return.

During the pandemic, St. Paul’s labyrinth was closed. By welcoming a roster of volunteers and organizing special events, Hull wants to open the labyrinth more often than the current 10 a.m. to noon Sunday schedule. As well as the International Labyrinth Day event, there’s a live sound bath with Andrew Illman from 7 to 9 p.m on Friday, May 24.