The Center of the Labyrinth

The Center of the Labyrinth. Photo credit: Mark Kenward

Photo credit: Mark Kenward

The Centre of the Labyrinth by Shelley Campbell
August 18 – 19, 21- 23, 25, 26 at Venue #9 – Telus Phone Museum (10437 83 Ave. NW)


An interview with Shelley Campbell.

Describe your show in one sentence.

My story is about finding the spiritual treasure hidden in death, grief and loss.

Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description of your show?

Shelley’s story begins in the summer of love in the Sixties.  She is intoxicated with a vision of a spiritually centered life grounded in simple living, non-violence and beauty.  She has two children by the time she is twenty and enters a high minded ashram.

With as many twists and turns as a labyrinth she discovers slowly over years of effort, disillusionment and repeated re-starts there are no easy answers.

As she hits her 50th birthday she is blindsided by tragedy.  She finds her spiritual muscles are woefully inadequate to the task.  She discovers labyrinth walking as a spiritual exercise beyond dogmas or belief systems.  She finds slowly one step at a time her unique connection to an enriched inner life which includes humor, forgiveness and an acceptance of death.   The magic of life is never far away if we wake up and tune into it!

You mention a labyrinth is a perfect metaphor for life – can you explain this connection and how you came to see things this way?

Labyrinth walking is a meditation practice that requires you take one step at a time.  You step into the opening on to the path but the complex twists and turns make it impossible to “think” your way through. It is not a maze, there are no dead ends.  Show up, keep walking.  If you are simply aware and keep moving you will eventually find your way to the center.

Labyrinths have been revered as a metaphor for man’s deeper spiritual journey through life in almost every culture on the earth.  Art objects and ruins date back thousands of years.

We love harboring the illusion we can control and calculate our way through life.  Certainly healthy life-style choices and a positive attitude help. But life just like the labyrinth is full of unexpected twists and turns, messy contradictions, surprises and paradoxes.

The media release mentions various emotional tools – black humour, irony, self-deprecation, humility and forgiveness. Why do you feel these traits are key to overcoming adversity and sorrow?

Life’s most challenging moments, when we are pushed beyond our comfort zone often require finding a new box of psychological tools.  Humor is the eye of perspective and balance.  Our troubles can shrink and become manageable with a moment of irony, wit or self-deprecation that throws everything into proportion.  Black humor can be a life saver when we feel totally engulfed with pain and overcome by challenge. It brings strength and ballast by assessing a broader and more universal perspective. Seeing the absurdity of things can remove self-dramatization and “woe is me” attitudes.  We are not the center of the universe and seeing that is an important step in healing.  Forgiveness and humility are the treasures of accepting oneself and others warts and all.  We are all both human and divine and it is infinitely enriching to know we are all in this together.

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

I love telling my story and have people approach me after my show to share their own stories of healing and forgiveness.  We don’t give people opportunities as a culture to speak to this dimension of life. We all hate to admit it but it is through learning and navigating life’s BIG challenges we deepen our connection to a spiritual sense of the sacred in everyday life.  Through suffering we can find our way to the magic under the surface of life.

The 36th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 17 – 27. Get your tickets at tickets.fringetheatre.ca starting August 9.

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