A New Space for Spiritual Practice and Reflection

Outdoor labyrinth provides opportunity to focus on spiritual well-being 

A new outdoor labyrinth is nestled behind the residential Witherspoon Apartments on Princeton Theological Seminary’s Charlotte Rachel Wilson Campus. Along with many helping hands, Student Life Resident Daniel Heath, MDiv ’20, dreamed of the idea and coordinated the design and recent completion of the labyrinth.

The previously unused space is now an ecofriendly gathering place for students and their families with a labyrinth at the center. At nearly 50 feet in diameter, it is one of the largest labyrinths in the Princeton area.

“The labyrinth provides another opportunity for spiritual practice and theological engagement on campus in a residential community, where people can convene outside to fellowship, reflect, pray, and even lament,” said Heath. “I am privileged and excited to be called in a time and to a place where I can support residential life and the community in a creative and impactful way.”

The labyrinth was designed and built by students and family members using primarily stones. Weed tarp topped with mulch lines the walking path, with larger stones forming the outer circle and smaller stones marking out the path. Heath worked with the Farminary to coordinate the use of a truck to source all the stones. Former Housing Assistant Rebecca Roberts applied her architectural knowledge in helping with the initial measuring and visioning of the labyrinth. Recent MDiv graduate Madison Roberts assisted Heath with gathering stones 40 minutes away in Jackson, and delivering them to the site.

Ryan MacLean, heading into his second year in the MDiv/MACEF dual degree program, designed the labyrinth after initially responding to an email from Heath to assess student interest in the project. He, along with Heath and MDiv/MSW candidate Connor McManus, constructed the labyrinth bit by bit over the course of several weekends. When they began, snow was melting in the spring semester. They finished this summer in early June. MacLean’s Scottish heritage and Celtic spirituality served as inspiration for the design.

“You see labyrinths often in Celtic culture, not just focused on spiritual well-being but well-being in the here and now — the physical reality of God’s blessing,” MacLean said. “As you walk through, it has a grounding nature and brings up the idea that your journey is not just about getting from point A to point B, but also whom you’re becoming along the way.”

“It’s easy to get wrapped up in classes and not pay enough attention to your own spiritual practice, and the labyrinth helps fill that need,” McManus said. “Having a beautiful space to take walks is so helpful, especially when people are looking for ways to connect.”

Learn more at www.ptsem.edu.