The subtleties of walking a labyrinth in fresh snow or in the dark have not been lost on me. Muscle memory, night vision, and simple observation help navigate the terrain when obvious landmarks are obscure.
Muscle memory helps find the path in the dark.
Before the snow fell, when I walk the labyrinth in the dark, the memory of the path, familiarity with the number of steps to a turn, and the various plant heights help me navigate. The funny little statues and boulders along the way form the boundaries. Lights from passing cars not only illuminate the path briefly and also wreck night vision. So, counting steps and simply being aware of where I am on the labyrinth help keep me on the path.
With snow on the ground, the snowshoes make terrific “pat down” equipment and after a few times walking is easy. So, until a new snow, I can just wear boots. Stay on the beaten path or find myself “post-holing” through deep snow.
The brilliance of a sunny day can be confusing, so after a fresh snowfall, I look for the burned stems of plants and the slight depression of past walks as guides. And, how the drifted snow reveals a different texture is fascinating.
Odd marks in the snow capture my attention. Little holes that appear from nowhere, then tiny tracks of a rodent, then another little hole where it dropped back in the security and relative warmth of the snow tunnels.
The fate of the incautious rodent is evident where tracks suddenly disappear with telltale feather strokes on the snow. Whoooo’s for lunch?
Walking the labyrinth in winter brings its own rewards.
What a tumultuous year!
Politics, weather extremes, human-created disasters, changes in work, working
through elder matters, untimely deaths. Wow. One could be overwhelmed and, using
an old New England phrase, think, “The world is going to H— in a Handbasket.”
Yet, when we shift the lens of our thinking and move into gratitude,
we begin to appreciate small pleasures and successes and help others move into
more positive places, so they contribute to gratitude and the healing of ourselves,
communities and the world.
So, here is a random selection from my 2018 Gratitude Jar.
Many gratitudes came from others helping me the many times Rich was East
helping his folks.
1-1 Walked the labyrinth two times and at the full moon in
1-19 Facebook Live we talked about catalogs and treats for
2-4 Working with Rich on Hoover Hatchery blog on chicken folklore.
3-25 We met a couple on Cedar Lake Train who feed birds and
4-27 Jenn helped me remember how to print PDF of Essential
5-8 Dinner with the Ogden/Muchmore.
5-24 A and D engaged!
6-25 Paige at Verizon helped with a discount.
6-27 Savannah helped again with household chores and sanding
the chairs. A really hot time and we did
7-2 Taught with Mary Pathways at KCC.
8-22 Judy S. talked with students for KPACE.
9-1 Edith and Tami at Illuminations labyrinth walk.
10-4 Ellen’s hospitality for Veriditas Council.
second week October travel to Nebraska and South Dakota and meeting the “real Deal”ranchers.
11-27 DJ at the photo shop made great postcards for Winding
12-7 Norma and I had a wonderful talk after class.
12-13 Helped Rachel at PCI.
12-26 Walked North End labyrinth in Denville.
I enjoyed this walk down memory lane as I browsed the gratitude
notes and remembered the positives of 2018.
What’s the benefit? We infuse ourselves with a large DOSE
of optimism and improve our health and that of those around us.
Dopamine, the “chemical of reward”, flows into us
when we have accomplished a task and been kind to others. For me, completing tasks I especially do not
want to do has always proved to be helpful. Then, I write these on the
gratitude papers and slip them into my jar!
It’s best when I do the task first. Then, it is off my mind and I am
really pleased. Good habit to develop.
Oxytocin, the bonding hormone that parents especially
feel toward children, is released by gentle and caring touch. My work with Reiki,
Healing Touch Spiritual Ministries and facilitating programs creates
connections and stronger bonds among us.
Serotonin the neurotransmitter that counters
depression is often stimulated by sunshine, thinking positively, and eating
foods high in tryptophan. Pineapple, eggs, cheese, Tofu, salmon, nuts and
seeds, and, of course, turkey!
Endorphins produced in the central nervous system
help regulate pain. They can help us push through a difficult physical task. Some
form of daily movement helps us be more cheerful. Walking the labyrinth daily since late 2018
has benefitted me. Grounding. Centering. Naming specific gratitudes as I walk.
Appreciating the changes in the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth.
Online University has a great outlook on the neurotransmitters and hormones
that help lift us up. Then, we lift up others.
We create this better world most long for and which is badly needed.
The lyrics to Enya’s song, “Pilgrim” often roamed through my mind this winter as I walked the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth in cold and warmth, snow and rain, trudged through deepening snow and slid over the icy path all in a quest to reach Center. Center – a physical, emotional, spiritual goal.
In particular the line: “The road that leads to nowhere, the road that leads to you.”
Nelda, Teri, and Wahneta constructing the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth.
Midwest by West by Southwest, I walked several labyrinths and with the help of several stellar friends re-created the labyrinth in our front yard. With the help of wonderful friends, the five-circuit Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth replaced the seven-circuit Classical labyrinth. The magnolia that was dying came down and a small bur oak took its place. New circuits were measured and established. And, a lovely cross-quarter day dedication ceremony welcomed the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth. All summer, fall and early winter pilgrims walked in groups and individually helping to settle in the labyrinth in our front yard.
We traveled north into Minnesota, East to New York, West to Washington State, and Southwest to Arizona enjoying labyrinths and solitude along with communing with friends and family.