What about labyrinths draws us? The unique patterns? The locations? The need to center? Perhaps all.
Labyrinth walks of 2022 varied from ordinary to recognizing the structure needed attention and Love, to being “surprised by Joy!”
The Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth in the front yard was graced by groups and regular or random walkers. Sometimes we interacted with a wave or a chat. Other times we were simply aware people came to walk. All winter the solar lights glowed above the thin topping of snow. By spring N helped gather in the lights that we cleaned and stored. Then, come fall, P helped place them again at turns delighting in the changing reds, greens, blues, and whites of the solar lights at night. Rich and I reset the welcome pavers and trimmed the center oak that is stretching to the sky. One regular walker mentioned how tall the bur oak had grown this year. The autumn burn followed by Rich’s amazing weed whacker left the labyrinth walkable and rather sad looking. We need snow to cover the burn marks and replenish the soil! When I gather the morning paper or evening mail, a stroll through the labyrinth refreshes me.
Four local labyrinths called for a visit and all but one needs attention and Love. The director of Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center enjoys the 11-circuit Chartres labyrinth and recognizes its need for renovation. Together we are exploring ideas and resources as the labyrinth is a sweet one. The top-of-the-knoll Regis labyrinth has lost its luster yet the memory of walking it stays sweet. Some walkers have mentioned that the Nature Center’s while maintained is more like a long march over uneven ground than a tender commune with nature. New Bo’s is simply lovely. Separate. Private. Yet with and within the vibrant community.
Nassif Community Cancer Center. Tom H and Lynda B-S are such great colleagues and friends to again help create a labyrinth to inspire giving. After the supervisor, Matt S, cleared having the floor used for a temporary labyrinth, Lisa H. Matt and I drew some dimensions. Then, Tom and Lynda created their magic. It’s always a challenge to figure out the centers – yes two! Then, to begin the spirals that lead into the center, around a corner and out past the other center to the exit. Somehow they do it and with such a lovely spirit, too.
Each day new items appear along the labyrinth from canned goods, to household products, to clean clothing and backpacks. At the end of the season, we will gather these up and donate to organizations that Matt researched. Thank you all!
Derecho Labyrinth. Tucked into the corner of a yard is a lovely diminutive labyrinth constructed of Derecho 2020 rounds. Linger and feel the creative energy fueled from a destructive event.
Across the Country – West, and North
Taking a break from the Outdoor Writers Association of America’s annual conference held this year in Casper, WY, Rich and I strolled along the meandering multi-use path on the North Platte River. Across the River, a copse caught my eye. The trees seemed to embrace an opening. After crossing the River we walked back up the other side and found a delightful labyrinth! Well-marked and maintained it is a welcome respite for people needing some quiet. It is listed on the World Labyrinth Locator.
Alaska’s labyrinths were a mix. St. Mary’s Episcopal Church off Tudor Road in Anchorage is a lovely walk beside the main building. Gently held by trees that screen it from the busy road, it is Accessible, Charming, and Soothing. Always a good stop. Christ Episcopal Church’s is absolutely sweet. Created in the summer of 2020 perhaps in a burst of enthusiasm associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic it remains quite nice once you get there and can find the entry. It lies beyond a garden and greenhouse and is set in some young trees. Approaching it to walk, the entry was unclear. I simply stepped on a circuit and began to walk. When I discovered the entry nicely set between two guardian trees but away from natural access, I noted that the path was overgrown. Basically inaccessible. Disappointing. A touch of maintenance is all it needed.
Homer, AK’s St. Augustine’s recently refurbished labyrinth is astonishing! Tucked on the end of the Kenai Peninsula, and set behind the small church, it overlooks the waters and mountains. The renovations suit it well with Nell Gustafson and Judy Millikin as two of the prime driving forces. We created a labyrinth program which was both in person and on ZOOM, was a satisfying experience with attendees from Alaska, Utah, and states beyond. An Honor. Fun!
Hot August Days & Nights
August found us in Missouri and Kansas with 109 degrees of heat! Wowzer! And, the labyrinths in Liberty were wonderful. Grace Episcopal Church’s we’ve walked before. Created for an Eagle Scout Project it still attracts pilgrims with its tender turns and simple setting. Precious Blood Renewal Center’s was new to us and a delight. Set off a path around a small pond, it’s made of flagstone pavers with a central pit. Depending on the light the path can be challenging to follow. Just take time. It is worth the stop.
Kansas City, MO, North Oak Christian Church square labyrinth is so sublimely set that it captivated both of us – the labyrinth and the surroundings. Trees, walkway, grounds. All combined for a satisfying walk, in spite of the heat.
A well-intended, but neglected school project labyrinth in Lawrence, Kansas, again reveals the importance of commitment beyond initial enthusiasm.
Sweet North End
On to New Jersey! By far one of the sweetest tiny labyrinths has been created and maintained by Bianca Franchi on the north end of Cedar Lake in Denville. Through multiple superstorms and hurricanes, the labyrinth has survived and been refurbished by loving hands. Twylla Alexander, board president of Veriditas visited and wrote about the North End Labyrinth in her book Labyrinth Journeys: 50 States, 51 Stories. Her talk at a labyrinth conference is how we met and shared the delight of this diminutive labyrinth and its journeys. I walk each time we are back East and Rich took a snowy picture of it on his December visit.
Iowa hosts a surprising number of labyrinths and we discovered two special ones on a Thanksgiving sojourn to SE Iowa. The backyard of a home in Washington, IA, is a quiet refuge for pilgrims and wildlife. Nestled among arbor vitae the labyrinth feels restful and holy. A few miles down the road at the Crooked Creek Christian Camp, we chatted with the director who shared that the camp hosts families and other groups and the story of the labyrinth. When we walked it, the happy spirit simply bubbled up around us. Fun! Fairfield, IA, labyrinth behind the Methodist Church is sad because the prime advocate for it has died. Hmmm. It is a nice labyrinth and just needs a touch of love. The town, however, is magical with Seven Roses Inn BnB run by the mayor of the city, great eateries, intriguing small shops, The Maharishi University, and miles of trails. A great overnight!
Maintenance is always the issue. Good intentions help people create. Diligence easily falls to the wayside when volunteers are expected to maintain structures. Part of the mission of Veriditas Council and led by Chuck Hunner is restoring lonely labyrinths.
The last categories of labyrinths this year are the Virtual Facilitator Renewal Day in January, and the regular finger walks that Veriditas has hosted each Friday since the pandemic began. Council produces the Virtual Facilitator Renewal Days on ZOOM offering a wide variety of experiences for people across the world. The Friday free, hour-long ZOOM finger walks also bring a Global community together. We see familiar faces and get to know people’s stories. Veriditas Council hosts the third Friday of the month. This year I was honored to present in July from Alaska with the theme “View from the Edge.” The edge of the Pacific rim. The edge of the North American Continent. The edge of the United States. The edge of the Cook Inlet. The view is different. On November 11, I shared “To Everything There is a Season.” Armistice Day, Veterans’ Day, Poppy Day, Remembrance Day, and seasons of the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth. Veriditas staff is fabulous with their support and choice of music, making presenting a joy. Thank you.
So, that is it! A year of labyrinths 2022. Check out the next Virtual Facilitator Renewal Day # 4 on January 14, 2023.