Interfaith minister, writer and self-styled ‘nomad’ Clive Johnson is finalising plans to take a portable labyrinth on a 10,000 mile road trip around the USA. His aim: to introduce as many people as possible to the experience of labyrinth walking, and “hopefully, to leave a trail of positive energy as we go”.
Clive’s route will take him through all 33 states that form the boundary of the mainland United States, thus having a border with Canada or Mexico, or a coastline. He’ll begin his journey next month in Minneapolis, Minnesota — where local artist and labyrinth maker Lisa Moriarty is creating the travelling labyrinth on a 24 foot diameter canvas mat — and proceed in a clockwise direction, with the first leg taking him to Boston, Massachussets.
Aware of the current political debate in America about border security, Clive says he is “not motivated by any political, religious or ideological agenda or purpose, other than a desire that the labyrinth should be fully inclusive of all people who walk it. The labyrinth doesn’t make any judgements, it is open to anyone and everyone”.
He has set up a dedicated website (labyrintharoundamerica.net) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/labyrintharoundamerica), and hopes to use the networking power of social media, as well as local press and broadcasters, to engage participants and helpers along the way.
“This venture started as a ‘crazy idea’ that has been driven by a feeling rather than a well thought through idea,” he wrote in his first blog, dated 23 February, “and I’ve really no knowing where the journey might lead me, nor hopefully the hundreds or thousands of people who may come to the labyrinth or become involved with its journey. It feels like an important ministry for me. Your thoughts, prayers, suggestions, and moral support will all help show the way… I hope that we might meet at some point on the labyrinth’s long journey!”
Clive’s road trip is being supported by The Labyrinth Society, which is the leading global body for labyrinth enthusiasts. His own website includes an astonishingly comprehensive listing of ‘Books, Weblinks and Resources’ about labyrinths, and he will add to the canon with his own self-published book in March: Labyrinth Alpha–Omega, An Introduction to the how, what and why of labyrinths and labyrinth walking, by Clive Johnson (more details in due course on his website).
Labyrinths have been popular in many different cultures, continents and periods in history. Since the 12th century they have been incorporated into the floors of a number of northern Europe’s great cathedrals, including Chartres (pictured). The design for Clive’s travelling labyrinth is based on a pattern known as the “Baltic style”, mirroring a layout found in hundreds of stone labyrinths around the coast of Scandinavia.
“Today,” he explains on his website, “many people walk labyrinths to meditate, reflect, or detach from the everyday for a short while. Many people report feeling uplifted, having flashes of inspiration, but most commonly having a sense of peace when walking a labyrinth. Were it to offer nothing else, the labyrinth offers a safe space where you can be at one with yourself, not demanding anything from you other than that you put one foot in front of the other and breathe!”
After an early career in management consultancy and IT, Clive trained as a OneSpirit interfaith minister, and was ordained in 2015. He has written a variety of books exploring his interests in spirituality and mythology.
“My inspiration for this project came especially from two women that I met at the 2016 gathering of The Labyrinth Society,” he says. “One has worked extensively with a ‘world peace’ labyrinth (a design created for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City), and the other made her own odyssey around France with a portable labyrinth modelled on the famous installation at Chartres Cathedral”.