Simply Divine: The Yale Divinity School Labyrinth

Divinity school labyrinth on a cloudy day

It takes me 200 steps to reach the center of the labyrinth. 

I walk with care to avoid stepping from the dark grey stones that mark the path onto the light grey ones that outline its boundaries. Where the labyrinth doubles back on itself, sharp corners demand that I walk at a glacial pace to avoid teetering.

The center, tantalizingly visible throughout the walk, is shaped almost like a flower. A short stem attaches to a large center, with six round petals offshooting from it. With my final steps, I reach it.

Then I sit cross-legged and contemplate. 

The entry to the Yale Divinity School's front courtyard
Looking into the Divinity School from the main entrance.

The Yale Divinity School sits atop Science Hill. It has a beautiful front courtyard with criss-crossing paths, two chapels, a library, a refectory, and Yale’s most joyous commencement procession each May (the Divinity School hires a drum circle to lead graduates down from the school to the official ceremonies). 

Looking down on the Divinity School courtyard from the main chapel entrance
The view looking down from the entrance to the main chapel is astounding!

Not everyone thinks to take a lap around the Divinity School, but the backside (which faces St. Ronan Street) has a stairway that ascends to two small courtyards. The courtyard on the right is a workspace. It has several small metal tables with chairs and outdoor outlet stations. This makes the courtyard perfect for students who are bad about charging their laptop before heading off to do work, but want to enjoy the sun and draw inspiration from a thematically appropriate setting while writing final papers for courses in Yale’s Religious Studies department (true story). 

The left courtyard has the labyrinth, one of my favorite peaceful campus spots. Labyrinths were developed as an alternative to the traditional Christian pilgrimage, and represent one’s own spiritual journey and path through life. Regardless of one’s faith background, the sentiment makes the labyrinth a perfect spot to sit and recenter yourself – the type of spot everyone needs sometimes. 

A tree's branches hang over the path to the labyrinth
This picturesque tree overhangs the path leading to the labyrinth.

I often jog there. It’s about 1.25 miles from Davenport College, which makes it the perfect interlude for a quick, mind-clearing run around campus. And the courtyard the labyrinth is within is beautiful in every season, though I love it best on stormy nights in late Summer. 

I stand and exit when I’ve had my fill of the peace that can be found within the Divinity School labyrinth. And when I run back down Science Hill, that peace sustains me for a long time.