When someone finds a spot that they consider a hidden gem, they might be compelled to tell everyone they know, but something usually holds them back and they may only share it with a few people. Most hidden gems are meant to stay hidden. They provide their finders with a private space that they can call theirs.
It’s no surprise that a lot of Goucher students don’t know about the hidden gems on our campus. My favorite, located between the Haebler Memorial Chapel and Mary Fisher Hall, is one that shouldn’t go unnoticed and be hidden anymore. From the outside, it looks like a small circular garden and seating area, but if you walk to its entrance, you will see a brick and gravel maze-like path. But it’s not a maze, it’s a mindfulness and meditation labyrinth.
Mazes are meant to trick and confuse you. They’re meant for you to find your way out of them on your own. A labyrinth has no tricks, isn’t meant to confuse you, or make you choose your own path. It’s meant to help you find your center and find clarity. It’s a tool that’s been used for centuries for mindfulness and meditation. The labyrinth is a representation of the journey inward to our own true selves and then back into the real world. On top of likely having an emotional and even spiritual response to walking a labyrinth, the body also has a physiological response.
The labyrinth, located between the Chapel and Mary Fisher, is one of two labyrinths on Goucher’s campus. The second one is a portable canvas one that when fully spread out barely fits in the Heubeck forum (it actually goes up the walls a bit). But the permanent one is more than just a calming place.
While all labyrinths are very similar, there are differences that come with each one. For Goucher, the outdoor labyrinth is also the site of two very special trees that are dedications to two students from the class of 2010 who tragically passed away in 2006. Goucher wanted to build the labyrinth before the students passed away, and thought that combining the labyrinth and the dedications would be the perfect way to not only provide a space for others to enjoy and memorialize two students but also might bring more meaning to the Goucher labyrinth. The trees and their significance set it aside from the other labyrinths located around the area.
I sat down with Goucher’s Chaplain, Cynthia Terry, to talk about the labyrinth and how it came to be. I asked her “Why put one on Goucher’s campus?” She told me that, “a college campus is a perfect place for one.” They are used as a calming space and a place for mindfulness and meditation; and I have to agree with her because I think a college, full of very stressed out students, is the right place to have a labyrinth. The Goucher websites labyrinth page says that the labyrinth can be used as an “opportunity to reflect on the transitions and decisions of your life”. A place that can be calming and possibly bring clarity to students? Everyone needs that peace and space in their life.
If you want more information on labyrinths, there is a wonderful documentary called “Labyrinth Journeys” by Cintia Cabib that Cynthia Terry recommended.