The labyrinth at WCBR is ‘a place to foster balance,’ says Nancy Baum
A labyrinth isn’t what you probably think it is.
At least, not if you think of it as a maze – a tangle full of wrong turns that lead you astray until you’re hopelessly lost. That’s a device for generating frustration. A labyrinth – a design featuring a single path that leads into the center of an intricately wound space and then back out – is meant to do the opposite. Walkers of labyrinths are more likely to be seeking peace, and often find it.
Resident Nancy Baum finds the labyrinth at Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge “provides a place to foster balance, in both the physical and spiritual sense.”
Labyrinths, she says, are “an ancient way of getting into the spiritual side of human experience. You can approach walking the path from several different perspectives.” Over the centuries, they have often served as “a vehicle of prayer,” which is why you often find them associated with churches – one of the most famous in the world is located in Chartres Cathedral in France.
But they can also be “secular things,” a means to “get to a place where you’re calmer.” Whether religious or secular, the idea in approaching a labyrinth is to “Start with an intention to focus on some aspect of your spiritual life that you’d like to go deeper into.”
The WCBR labyrinth is one of the reasons why Nancy moved to Charlottesville back in April. As she wrote recently in the Happenings newsletter:
“To be honest, I’m something of a labyrinth aficionada; I collect them, not as objects, but as experiences. Wherever I am, I seek them out. In fact, when my daughter and daughter-in-law were encouraging us to move from Palo Alto to WCBR, the labyrinth was one of the things they made sure I appreciated, knowing I’d be leaving several well-loved sites in the San Francisco area.”
Back in California, she had a lot to choose from:
When she came to WCBR, she was pleased at what she found.
The labyrinth at Westminster is located at one of the entrances to the Pantops Building, near the fitness area. As Nancy describes it, it’s on a raised section of the landscape, overlooking the raised garden beds. From there, she likes to “look out into the distance, at the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the nearer hills.”
Since she moved to WCBR during the pandemic, “I do a lot of walking,” on the perimeter road, and around the pond on the northeast side of the campus. But time and again, she finds herself at the labyrinth – “once or twice a month, but in the summer more than the winter.”
Nancy was born in Missouri, then lived in various parts of the country. “I worked as a computer programmer, a teacher, a wife and a mother – and a church volunteer.”
Settling in at Westminster, she is rewarded by what she has found.
For me, WCBR’s labyrinth is best walked in the morning when it is bathed in sunlight,” she wrote in Happenings. “With hills and open sky to the north and east, and a glimpse of sky to the west, I feel surrounded by natural beauty. Each time I walk it, I am grateful that it was incorporated into the WCBR campus.”