School of Divinity holds contemplative walk for justice

This story was originally published by the Winston-Salem Chronicle on January 25, 2018.

by Timothy Ramsey
Media Contact: C. Mark Batten | | 336.758.3959

The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was honored this week on the campus of Wake Forest University.  Prior to the 18th annual Martin Luther King Jr. keynote address, the School of Divinity hosted a Contemplative Walk for Justice at Davis Chapel to encourage social engagement.

For the walk they chose to have a labyrinth, which participants were able to walk around.  A labyrinth is an ancient walking meditation practice that opens participants to personal, psychological and spiritual transformation.

“We put this together last semester and it is a walk for social justice and change,” said Michelle Johnson, first year Wake Forest School of Divinity student and office of spiritual life employee.  “We are commemorating the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

“With the events of this past weekend, it makes this walk even more important than it already was,” she continued.  “We put it together in order to bring about awareness of the changes that need to be made in our community, campus and our nation overall.”

The divinity school has done other labyrinth walks in the past including one at a local prison.  They stated they hope the participants at the school find it to be very relaxing.

Sophia Russell, third-year WFU School of Divinity student and president of the student leadership council said, “The labyrinth is kind of like a maze and it is a walk of reflection and a time of contemplation to think about and hold in remembrance those who have done so many things that has paved the path for us.”

For the walk, participants were allowed to walk the path of the labyrinth. There was also a litany centered on social justice issues along with African drums and quotes delivered from past and current leaders.

Everyone involved seemed to totally embrace the spirit of the event.  There were people of different races, ages and genders who decided to partake in the event as well.

“I think that walking the labyrinth is really powerful spiritual practice,” said Janiece Williams, first year WFU School of Divinity student.  “Spirit and justice go hand and hand, so that is why I wanted to be a part of it.”

Paul Chambers, third-year WFU School of Divinity student, also participated in the walk.  He thought it was a great opportunity to commemorate the legacy of Dr. King, who was a Baptist preacher, in a unique and spiritual way. 

Johnson and Russell say they hope the participants of the labyrinth walk realize that change begins from within. 

“With the labyrinth there are no puzzles, walls or places you can’t walk,” Johnson said.  “The only decision is to begin walking and how you are going to walk it.  I hope people take away that it starts from within, so we have to look at the man or woman in the mirror and then make that change.”

Russell added, “For those that are faith believers, faith is an action word and so this is our moment of action. This is just the start of several things we will do throughout the semester.”

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