Like many people around the world I find the labyrinth's meandering yet purposeful twists and turns of deep symbolic comfort in my inner journey. It's sweeping reaches from to left and right help me to gather my parts together, to remember myself into and with something bigger than the parts I found myself wondering whether the labyrinth could also provide me with a symbolic way of linking my inner world with the people in the outer world that I live in, to feel deeply connected with the bigger whole.

My outer world is this miraculous, wonderful post-apartheid “new South Africa” - 'the rainbow nation' as Desmond Tutu dubbs us. Many might even say, as Albert Luthuli (South Africa's first Nobel Laureate) suggested to us in 1960, that our goal is to feel ‘at home’ with each other. And, I would add, within ourselves. They go together. And now, with our new political dispensation, it is possible. Our Freedom Charter, celebrating it's fiftieth birthday this year, says that this land "belongs to all who live in her".

But we are still divided. Our lives continue to be fundamentally influenced by the after-effects of apartheid. As Luthuli said, there is still a lot of work to do. Deep cleavage lines are painfully coming through to the surface as the freedom euphoria papering over the apartheid wounds wears thin. There is great inequality, great poverty, much suffering. Great wealth and privilege and unequal access to it. While we share a yearning for much the same things - safety, health, family, friends, education, work, things to do, things to hope for, goals to aim for, for some of us access to these things is still very much harder for than for others. This doesn’t feel right. And we're not even really talking to each other about it because we aren't close enough to hear each other. So where does this labyrinthine journey towards tomorrow begin? Where do ordinary everyday people like me start?

Well, as with any journey, it can only start from where I’m at. (This may seem obvious but it’s taken me some time to realize this.) Where I'm 'at' includes that I am white middle class and had a good education, a privilege that went with that skin colour. Although my parents originated from South Africa and are of of 19th Century English settler stock, my siblings and I grew up in Zimbabwe (where we were born) Malawi and Zambia and then back in Zimbabwe. After a year as an AFS student I came down to South Africa to attend university, married and have lived in various places here for thirty five years. Happily.

On an outer level, with my nomadic experience in life, I have often wondered “Where is home?” But it goes deeper than this. It hasn’t really been possible to feel ‘at home’ inside myself with what has been happening outside in the name of people with my skin colour. For my first twenty five years in South Africa I have been illegitimately privileged. And busy with raising a family. For the past ten years - I've been able to legitimately be proud to be able to say I'm South African, to have - no thanks to me - been brought into the bigger South African family. And I am hugely grateful for our leaders who sacrificed so much to bring this about.

But where are our family occasions? Where are we to meet to build our relationships to the point that they are strong enough to handle differences that do and will continue to occur between us? Because of our travels as children we didn't have relations nearby to congregate with on high days and holidays. From a distance it has always seemed to me that gathering together on significant occasions is the glue that keeps families aware of themselves as 'families'. And now, as South Africa settles into being one big – but not so happy - family I have yearned for occasions when we could meet together on neutral ground and, at the very least, just 'be' with each other without words, searching mindfully for common ground. Or, with more time, to each learn from each other about where 'the other' is at, and has been 'at' on their journeys to today. There are many profound initiatives here focused on recognizing and healing the wounds of the past. They tend to be focused on smaller contained groups or in therapeutic settings. Most public events seem to be organised by political parties or for particular constituencies and in that sense have an agenda. This is often divisive. I have begun to realise, deeply realise, that in ten years time we will be twenty years into our new democracy and I'll (God willing) be sixty-five and I don’t want to be still wondering where to start. So I'm starting my own journey, now, from inside-out and seeing where it leads. The journey is the goal. And starting from where I am at, being a labyrinthist, means starting with a labyrinth.

From the start it was obvious that the design of the journey to South Africa's tomorrow couldn't have just one path leading from the past towards the future. Reaching our present dispensation was never a certainty. Yet to have reached here a shared hope for it’s existence must have existed sufficiently in the hearts of our leaders, each coming from their different directions and from the different experiences that shaped their beings. The reality is that I still live in a comfortable middle class suburb which is still very white and which is very separated from other suburbs nearby which are still pretty much separated into racial groupings the way they were in the days of apartheid. We are in different places. But I want my grandchildren, yet unborn, to live into a different reality. How could this be depicted in a labyrinth? The Reconciliation Labyrinth is designed with two entrances, recognising that as South Africans because of apartheid we do not start the journey towards reconciliation from the same place. Like the 'person' embedded into the design, the journey starts from where one's feet are. No matter how far apart we start however, with the intention to relate, to recognize and reconcile our differences and to grow in the strength of our diversity, we can still make a start on our journeys towards that mythical place, a South Africa where people really care about each other and what life's experiences have done to us. Sometimes the path allows us to travel alongside each other, sometimes it takes us away and sometimes towards each other but, if we keep walking, when we are at the furthest point from our divided entrance we find we are in the same path as each other. We then pass each other and walk the path that ‘the other’ has walked, gaining understanding along the way of how we were shaped to be where we are now. Eventually we reach our 'heartspace' where we need to make a decision whether we want to walk into the centre together, a centre which belongs to us all. When it is time to leave we find that there is a third path, a new path, by which we can exit. Incorporated 'through the body', together and on our feet, walking into the future, still 'not-knowing' but nevertheless on a journey of hope. This is pretty much how our leaders enabled us to find the common ground of 1994.

The Reconciliation Labyrinth evolved in a context (an important triggering insight was the Reflection Labyrinth by Marty Kermeen) and has been planned and used in a variety of places and contexts in conjunction with a variety of people including being part of a Home-to-All Campaign event on the Day of Reconciliation in Wynberg Park in Cape Town in 2002, as the Recycle Labyrinth, a part of the Cape Town Earth Festival in 2003, in workshops with schoolchildren during World Environment Weekand as the Reconciliation Day Beach Labyrinth on the famous and beautiful Muizenberg beach in Cape Town on the Day of Reconciliation in 2004. In April 2005 it was used in Amsterdam as part of a church event focused on Reconciliation at the time of the ceremonies marking the sixtieth anniversary since WWII. Recently it played a part in Lauren Artress's workshops on her visit to Cape Town. In May it was used in workshops at TSiBA, a new free university for students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.
A permanent Reconciliation Labyrinth is sited at the foot of a famous lighthouse at Kommetjie near Cape Town as a symbol for the future. It is used twice weekly in the closing ritual of a three day live-in environmental schools programme which reaches hundreds of children. The journey continues.

Note: The design in it's various incarnations is protected by copyright and registration but potential users are invited to contact me.