Finding the Heartspace

The design of the Reconciliation Labyrinth came to me in 2002 as a metaphor for my own ongoing journey of personal transformation, a journey searching for ways of reconciling my inner with my outer journey of being in this world, in this country and at this time in history - mine and South Africa’s.

The design at its most basic is a depiction of a journey of the balancing of opposites, a journey through not-knowing and of the mindful search for a third way forward.

Its design is informed by Jungian theory and inspired by a two path labyrinth design by Marti Kermeen.

This unique labyrinth design is increasingly being built and used as a therapeutic tool for individuals and groups in South Africa, the USA, Europe and elsewhere, and in a variety of practices: in solitude, in silence, in workshops, by pairs, by families and groups, with performing artists, poets, drummers, dancers.

The opposites explored and in dialogue with each other can, for example, be conceived of as the process of developing of awareness of the relation to ‘the other’, either intra or interpersonally, between the lived and unlived life, the masculine and the feminine, the conscious and unconscious, between light and shadow and as a search for wholeness after one-sidedness.

Installed permanently at the foot of the Kommetjie lighthouse, a popular stopping point on the famous Cape Peninsula scenic route, the Reconciliation Labyrinth is walked throughout the year by hundreds of visitors.

Temporary or portable versions of this labyrinth are used in a variety of contexts where people can meet mindfully on neutral territory, where inner journeys can be travelled, together, in shared public intimacy or solitary privacy.

THE DESIGN:

Unlike most labyrinths this unique design has two entrances.It recognises that as human beings with different backgrounds and different life experiences we do not start the journey towards an inner healing or wholeness from the same place. However by being prepared to consciously take on and interrogate our further experiences, we may find a way to walk towards a place where we can meet with each other in new ways.

With the intention to relate, to recognize differences and to grow in the strength of diversity, each walker starts the labyrinthine journey from wherever life has led them. Starting from there on her or his own ‘feet’ each walks a private path. At some point in the journey they find that they are indeed in the same human path, meet each other and, no sooner met, pass each other. They then walk the path that the other has just walked, with all it’s twists and turns.

The reflective journey takes the walkers through many turning points back to their ‘heartspace’, the point where they must make a symbolic choice. Here each contemplates whether or not they are ready to enter the centre, a space where they could potentially meet the other again, potentially on common ground.

In the words of Sarah Riely (1991): “The human heart is common ground”.

When it is time to leave, the walkers may choose a third way by which to exit on their path towards tomorrow, perhaps together. If, perhaps, that is going too far too fast, they can leave by way of one of the ways they came in, picking up the journey again at another space on another day when that feels right.

In the South African context, it is a journey of exploring new ways of being South African.

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