Sunday, September 25, 2016

Three Labyrinths in Six Days

Sunday afternoon while Cadence was at a birthday party, a friend and I went to my favorite labyrinth. I've been thinking lately about how much I want to share my love of labyrinths with my friends who have never experienced this meditative walk.

I gave this new friend an overview of the purpose of the labyrinth as a spiritual practice. This path is situated between to enormous oak trees. Acorns were everywhere. I prefer to walk the path barefoot, so the acorns created space for me to be even more mindful of each step. Acorns dropped from the trees as we walked. It felt slightly dangerous to walk not knowing when the next acorn would make us its next target.

Walking a labyrinth solo and with other people are different experiences. With other people, one must take care to be respectful of the others' location in relation to one's own place on the course. It's a balancing act. It seems important to allow each person their own personal space as they wind the path, but also to acknowledge each other's presence in some way when our walk brings us near each other. My friend and I negotiated this balance well. 

We met in the center for a few moments, and then we began the walk back out. At one point, he shared that he'd had an epiphany about his writing as he walked. I smiled to myself. This is what draws me to the labyrinth every time. In the wordless quiet surrounded by birds chirping and traffic whirring past, I always find comfort, new insight, and peace. I was happy that he'd had his own experience on his first trip.

To me, the labyrinth is an invaluable resource for writers.

It's become a new pastime to search for labyrinths when I travel. This week I flew to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a professional conference. On the last day, my colleague and I had several hours to burn before we headed to the airport. The night before, I'd gone to a restaurant she'd wanted to try, so she was happy to join me on my labyrinth adventure.

A Google search produced Jessica's Labyrinth on the campus of Chatham University, a twenty-minute cab ride from the hotel where we stayed. We found the secluded campus and the labyrinth across from the Admissions building. Like the labyrinth in St. Louis, this one is shaded by enormous oak trees. Acorns were scattered all over the grass-and-paving-stone circuit. I moved in what I call meditative-turbo mode since our cab driver had agreed to wait for us while we walked the path.

I kept my shoes on for this walk. I liked the crunch of acorn shells under my feet. I thought about Jessica, and the memorial gift her family had created in her honor. I was overwhelmed by the diameter of this labyrinth. At 60 feet, it's the largest one I've walked.

Besides thoughts about the waiting cab driver, wondering what my colleague thought of the walk, and the stones that burst out of their place by the force of a root system, I thought about how grateful I am that labyrinths are a part of my spiritual and writing practices and how glad I am that it's finally autumn.

I continue to dream about building a labyrinth on the property of the church I attend. We have an ideal space, and I would love to share this practice with the community. This labyrinth walk solidified two things: the labyrinth I want to build will not include paving stones or grass and will be less than 60 feet in diameter.


This has been a good week. The conference courses were exceptional. There were two dedicated specifically for writers, and the content was really helpful. I felt energized. Ready to return to my day job refreshed.

This weekend I'm solo, so I decided after a morning of church and work responsibilities, I would reward myself with another trip to my favorite labyrinth. I feel drawn to the space. This time I brought a broom and swept away the leaves and acorns before I started my walk. It was a nerdy thing to do, but it felt like a way of expressing my gratitude for this path being available to me. I made the sweeping its own form of meditation. I pulled weeds that crept through the seams in the concrete. 

With the path clear, I began my third walk. I contemplated how one year ago, this walk felt more daunting. It required more of me to lean into the unknown and to trust that the future was going to be a safe, fun place. 

I heard myself say, "I'm getting so much better at this." I welcome the curves and corners of my unknown path. I trust myself and my life so much more than I have before. I am in a good place--professionally, personally, and in my writing. This walk reminded me that life is circular, not linear, and that when I revisit emotions and circumstances, I will always find myself in a slightly different and often gentler mindset. 

Walking the labyrinth in the past year has tested my mettle and my adventurous spirit. It has taught me about trust and given me confidence and courage for each next step--on and off the course.


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