The following suggestions were prepared for a group of volunteers who were present during a women’s labyrinth event. Please adapt them to fit your unique environment in all ways that would enhance the experience of the walkers.
Synonyms for Hospitality: 1: gracious, cordial, friendly, warm, welcoming, neighborly, open-handed 2: receptive, accessible, open, open-minded, approachable, agreeable, responsive, amenable, tolerant.
First and foremost, as a hospitality volunteer, you are at the labyrinth to pray for those who have come. Let God lead you as you silently hold them and their needs in prayer.
People who have never walked a labyrinth often feel anxious. Your role is to provide a peaceful, reassuring presence in the room. People will take their cues from you; if you look as if everything is normal, they will think it is! There is no need to hover near the entrance to the labyrinth. Find a place to sit that indicates you are available if someone wants to engage you, but also that you trust that people can find their own way.
Your role is to help the environment feel safe. If someone not involved with the event enters the room, make sure that they do not disrupt those on the labyrinth.
Keep sounds not being expressed by labyrinth walkers to a minimum. This means that if someone needs to talk to you (beyond getting the answer to a simple question) you will want to step outside with that person. If others are talking, gently and kindly ask them to step outside and return when they are done.
You are here to support people as they have their experience. People do all sorts of things when they are praying on labyrinths. They may laugh, they may cry. They may stop, sit down, kneel, or walk off. They may do something else that you don’t expect. It’s okay; they are following the flow, don’t impede it.
Please do not engage anyone who hasn’t sought you out. When you do (even if you think you are being caring by offering a smile or giving them a hug), you might block their experience. If they need to weep, they need to weep. There will be Kleenex by the labyrinth; if they need one, they’ll go get it. If you offer them one, they will have to exit their experience to interact with you, so you become their focus, instead of themselves. As we all know, it is hard for many women to take time for themselves, we want to give them this gift. Think of how you can be fully present in the room and “almost invisible” at the same time.
Make sure that there are enough supplies available for walkers (paper, journal sheets, something to write with, Kleenex, etc.).
If something comes up (you need to go to the bathroom or get help), feel free to leave the room and return when you can.
After others have begun walking, if it feels right, feel free to enter the labyrinth, moving with the others, and praying for them. If you see that someone needs help (e.g. someone walks in the room and looks confused), be ready to leave your labyrinth experience to care for their needs.
When something else comes up, do what your heart leads you to do. Be hospitable, I’m sure you are wonderful at it! Providing a peaceful, hospitable presence while others walk is a way to experience labyrinth prayer. May God bless the time you are giving, meeting you as well as everyone else in the room with love!