The Drew labyrinth, on the northeast side of campus between the Hall of Sciences and Madison Avenue, was laid out in 2014 by Gabriele Hiltl-Cohen, a stone carver. The design is based on the medieval labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France, and the material is reclaimed bluestones. The materials and construction were made possible by the donations of many individuals, among them Woody Kerkeslager, Carmine Viola, and the 2014 graduating class of the Theological School.
A labyrinth is a visual representation of a journey. It has a single path that turns to make a larger circuitous pattern, and participants are intended to walk forward until they reach the center. It is not possible to be lost; unlike a maze, a labyrinth has only one direction. While walking on the path and concentrating on its turns, the participant loses a sense of his or her surroundings. This concentration induces a meditative state and permits the mind to wander, no longer anchored in a particular time or setting. As the labyrinth pattern moves in and away from the center, the participant might think that he or she is close to the end but then is brought out to the edge again. Such a struggle– the anticipation of reaching the end of the labyrinth and disappointment– is a reminder of the difficulties of anyone on a journey.
The labyrinth form has a history in many parts of the world. It is best known in the West at the French medieval cathedral of Chartres. The Chartres labyrinth dates from the first half of the thirteenth century. Its original function is not well documented, but it may have been intended for those who wished to obtain the spiritual benefit of a pilgrimage journey but who could not make the physical trip.
Liz Caroscio C’15 Participates in Josh Simpson’s Infinity Project
“Labyrinths symbolize a spiritual journey and also our journey through life,” Liz said. “Drew University was such an important part of my personal journey and I felt as if burying one of Josh Simpson’s planets would help me to mark this journey. I like knowing that I am leaving something behind as I move on with my life.”