de Paz: Whats In A Name?
By Ariane Burgess
When I was born I was given the name Ariane; and with
that name came the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Labyrinth.
In short, Ariane is the French derivation of Ariadne, the Cretan princess
who falls in love with Theseus and gives him the keya golden threadthat
enables him to find his way out of the Labyrinth after slaying the
I grew up fascinated with the myth and its many derivations. Several
years ago, while visiting friends in the sprawling city of Manchester,
England, I found a large book about mazes on their bookshelf with a
diagram of the Minotaurs Labyrinth. I was inspired. What would
it be like to walk this mythological Labyrinth? Arriving at my home
on the border of Scotland, I found bricks in a nearby abandoned fruit
orchard and set about methodically laying out the circuits.
Building the Labyrinth brought me a wonderful sense of peace, ceremony
and reverence. As I worked with the earth, stone and fallen branches,
a deepening awareness of my surroundings began to emerge. Walking the
completed Labyrinth created a microcosm of my life in which I saw clearly
my thoughts and ways of being. Friends and family came to walk the Labyrinth
and for some it was a deeply life-transforming experience.
I returned to New York City with the wish of creating a Labyrinth for
neighbors and friends to have the opportunity to reflect upon their
lives, to take a breath. The seeds for the Camino de Paz project were
sown in a collaboration between several organizations, the South Bronx-based
Cherry Tree Association, Youth Force, Families Reaching in Ever New
Directions (F.R.I.E.N.D.S.), and the city-wide Visiting Nurse Service
of New York. In a neighborhood where despair and violence are commonplace,
in a city where competition and high stress are the norm, these organizations
wanted to offer something that could help to bring about a balance
Camino de Paz is Spanish for Walk of Peace. By its very name, the intention
of the project is to allow people to walk the Labyrinth reflecting
ones sense of inner-peace, and the cultivation of peaceful relations
with our loved ones, friends, family, co-workers and others we share
this Earth with.
The first Labyrinth I painted for the Camino de Paz project is an 11
circuit Labyrinth. I decided to paint the circuits red, orange and
However, in the middle of painting the orange circuits I received a
strong intuition that the Labyrinth was to be a rainbow, and thus the
Rainbow Labyrinth was brought to life. As I painted, people from the
neighborhood would walk by and stop for a moment to observe. On more
than one occasion I was asked, What are you painting, the Universe? One
full moon evening, after walking the newly painted Labyrinth, I looked
up and saw a perfect rainbow circle wrapped around her, the moon,
reflecting the Rainbow Labyrinth.
After the tragedy of September 11th, the Rainbow Labyrinth was selected
as the site for a community activity. Four young boys appeared that
evening asking if we had a light for their candles. We walked into the
Labyrinth together and in the center, shared thoughts and feelings about
what had occurred that Tuesday. In that moment we created ceremony.
We connected the lighting of the candles with the offering of heart-felt
words. Michael, one of the boys, was the first to share what thought
he would like to connect to his candle. Moments went by as he stood
silently. I became aware of a feeling of anxiety growing inside myself,
and around me the other boys were beginning to squirm and make fun.
To relieve the situation, and to relieve myself of my feelings, I suggested
that we pass to the next person. However, a friend who was also present
in the circle held the space for Michael. Several more moments passed
and Michael said, I want everyone on Earth to be safe. I
lit his candle and he carried his thought carefully into the night.
This experience with Michael showed me the depth of my own dis-ease.
I had tried to change an external situation because of the way I was
feeling rather than acknowledging and allowing it to be present while
allowing this young boy to have his time. It was a subtle violence and
I realized that if I am to cultivate a sense of inner peace, then I
would also have to cultivate patience.
I am grateful to the moment of inspiration that called me to make a
Labyrinth and brought me to the Camino de Paz. Slowing down by walking
the Labyrinth is deepening my connection to the world around me and
within me. Its helping me to be more in the moment rather than
caught in seeking the goal. Walking the Labyrinth creates an opening
to Earth, the great unconditional loving energy force that no matter
how we treat her continues to pour forth her natural beauty and generously
nurtures. For me, walking the Labyrinth for peace requires finding
reverence for Earth and accepting responsibility for my actions so
that the wishes of young people like Michael can come true.
For more information about the Camino de Paz Project or to have a
Labyrinth created for or with your organization, contact Ariane at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (718) 742-2522.