Cathedral Labyrinth Guild explores ways to reconnect to the natural world

Dandelion illustration
Illustration by Dori Midnight

The Work that Reconnects is an inspiring process developed by Joanna Macy and her colleagues to help empower people and bring them into a stronger relationship with the Earth. Over the past several months, the Cathedral Labyrinth Guild has been working with this model as a resource to build community activism in recognition that we are stronger together.

In November 2023, Guild members attended an in-house workshop to study the process and to facilitate the remembrance of the connection between who we are within the greater body of Earth and our role in an ecosystem of healing. The workshop was led by Robin MacDonald a facilitator, who works within the realms of social justice, earth care, as well as spiritual and mental health.


In March, the Guild delved even deeper during two online book club sessions to explore Joanna Macy and Molly Brown’s book Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide to the Work that Reconnects, which describes the work of reconnecting, or deep ecology, “as a body of work and teachings to move from ecological apathy and grief to social healing and collective thriving.”

There is no doubt that the labyrinth can be helpful to provide a framework for working through difficult realities such as climate change. Walking the labyrinth provides time for a releasing, reflecting and gaining new perspectives. Macy and Brown’s book could be considered as a guidebook to do the spiritual work of reclaiming our humanity here on Planet Earth. It explores our relationship with the natural world, and indeed how we are part of the natural world. It also asks how one can work through apathy and hopelessness to a place of synergic power. The role of spirituality is explored in terms of our oneness with the Earth.

Joanna Macy calls upon her five decades of activism to share her experience for this work. Molly Brown’s family moved to Los Alamos shortly after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She reflects on the banality of evil and the assumptions of scientific and military culture.

The Work that Reconnects is presented as a spiral with four stages: 1) Gratitude; 2) Honoring our pain; 3) Seeing with new and ancient eyes; and 4) Going forth.  (see image, above right).

I appreciated the many examples of practices shared in the book which were unique ways to integrate the work in a practical way. For example, the practice of inviting representatives from different life forms such as a bird, a river, and a fish to speak as part of a ‘Council of Beings’ to humanity, brings a powerful message of interconnectedness.  This book is a rich resource which one could potentially use to engage with reconnection on an ongoing basis.

On May 11, 2024, the Labyrinth Guild is working with Robin MacDonald once again to host a public workshop entitled Stepping Forward for Earth. This retreat-style half-day workshop is designed to facilitate remembrance of the connection between who we are with the greater body of Earth and help clarify your role in an ecosystem of healing. Space is limited so register early.  More information can be found on the Christ Church Cathedral website’s listing of upcoming events:

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