The paths to success at Ohio Wesleyan University now include 86 majors, 57 minors … and one stone labyrinth.
Thanks to donors, the university this month completed the installation of a 47-foot-diameter labyrinth inspired by one of the world’s oldest walkable labyrinths – an 800-year-old path at Chartres Cathedral near Paris, France. Both labyrinths feature rosette-style centers, resembling the intricate rose windows found in the gothic cathedrals of northern France.
OWU’s labyrinth includes 17,600 stone pavers, with about 30 percent of the stones being cut by hand. The labyrinth, located in a grove of trees between the newly renovated Merrick Hall and the Delaware Run, is open to the public during daylight hours.
OWU’s labyrinth was designed by well-known labyrinth architect Robert Ferré and installed by Debi and Marty Kermeen of Illinois-based Labyrinths in Stone. The labyrinth is slightly larger than its inspiration and is unique in that its pavers rest on a concrete base rather than being set directly into the ground.
Ohio Wesleyan’s labyrinth will be dedicated in October, with the celebration including a lecture by Lauren Artress, founder of Veriditas, the World-Wide Labyrinth Project.
Artress, whose books include “The Sacred Path Companion: A Guide to Walking the Labyrinth to Heal and Transform,” will speak at 4 p.m. Oct. 5 in Merrick Hall, 65 S. Sandusky St. Artress holds a bachelor’s degree in special education from The Ohio State University, a master’s in education from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a doctorate in pastoral psychotherapy from Andover Newton School of Theology.
The goal of her California-based nonprofit organization is to “pepper the planet with labyrinths,” including a new initiative to create a series of interconnected “Veriditas Legacy Labyrinths.” OWU’s labyrinth will be only the third such legacy labyrinth in world. The others are located in La Falda, Argentina, and Jacksonville Beach, Florida – and each contains a piece from the other two in support of an interconnected global community and peace.
Following the Oct. 5 lecture, attendees will be invited to walk outside to the labyrinth for an asperging, or blessing with water. During the ceremony, guests will be able to dip tree branches in water and sprinkle the stone pavers.
The labyrinth is a gift to the university from the family of OWU life trustee Kathleen “Kathe” Law Rhinesmith, Class of 1964.
“I’d like to believe it’s a place where each person who comes here will find something,” Rhinesmith said, “whether that be a casual and peaceful walk or a deeper moment of self-discovery and self-reflection. … My wish is everyone who comes here will come away with some quiet new perspective on their life or the world around them.”