The Garden of Slow Time
Design by Paul Harris (Professor of English), in consultation with Mario Arroyo and Facilities Management
Dedication: December, 2016
The garden is a space for slow time, where visitors may walk a labyrinth and enjoy a panoramic view of the city. The benches that ring the labyrinth are inscribed with word-playful 'text messages' that bend language and the brain, and help to stretch the time.
The winding walking path is known as the Cretan or Classical Labyrinth. This shape has been found on pottery and rocks, or laid out in temples or fields, all around the world, dating back 5,000 years or more. It has been used in rituals for weddings, births, and burials; it can symbolize the earth mother's womb, a sacred tomb, or the path of planets in the sky. When we walk this path, we trace a pattern etched deeply in our species' collective memory.
Basic instructions for labyrinth walking:
- Pause at the entrance to the labyrinth. Take a few deep breaths and let your mind settle on a thought or question or just relax.
- Enter and walk the labyrinth slowly, in a steady rhythm. See if you can look straight ahead, so that your view keeps changing as the path curves. Slow down at the places where the path reverses direction.
- When you reach the center, take several slow, deep breaths, and face each of the four cardinal directions. You can breathe, turn, breathe, turn, etc.
- Walk out in the same manner as you walked in.
- When you exit, turn and look at the labyrinth and acknowledge your experience walking it.
Possible contemplations for walking:
- Earth Walk: Walk slowly on the path; pause when the path turns direction. With each step, feel your feet greeting the earth with joy and gratitude for our home. You can hold your stone and think of the earth in your hands and under your feet—every stone is a piece of the planet, a child of the same mother.
- Moon Walk: Like your stone, the moon is also a rock that was broken away from the earth. This is the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing! Imagine that your labyrinth walk is a lunar walk—what would it be like to walk on the moon? What would you see? What would earth look like?
- Thanks-giving Walk: As you walk into the middle, think of everyone and everything you are thankful for in your life. In the middle, think of ways you can show your gratitude. On the way out, think of what you are looking forward to being thankful for in the months and year to come.
- Ancestors Walk: Walk in the steps of your parents, grandparents, and extended family tree. Think of all those who came before you, making your life possible. In the middle, offer a thought to specific people. On the way out, think of yourself as an ancestor of the next generations. How can we act in our daily lives in ways that make us good ancestors for future humans?