Reflecting on 2020 Courage and Creativity

When life is topsy turvy; When people we know get critically sick and some die; When our normal routine is tossed out the window, three questions come to mind:

How is mine to be? What is mine to know? What is mine to do?

So, I walk.  As thoughts emerge, I work to act on them in helpful ways.

This year, instead of walking various labyrinths on our trips, I walked those in town, virtually with Veriditas, and always, the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth daily.

Here is a summary of 2020 walking which actually turned out well as people pivoted and created sacred space.

Minnesota Labyrinth Group

Spirit Woods, Stillwater, MN

A lovely group of walkers

Lisa Gidlow Moriarty maintains a wonderful network of Minnesota Labyrinth Lovers. In January Rich and I spent the weekend with cousins in the Twin Cities. On Saturday, I joined the labyrinth group in Stillwater. The day was overcast, the home inviting, and the labyrinth tucked in a wooded spot. Such an intriguing group of people. A lovely walk.

Westminster Presbyterian Church

Early in the year the Westminster Presbyterian Church members and staff worked with me to create a blessing of the beautiful labyrinth they installed in the undercroft. Three colleagues worked with me on music, movement, and art programming geared to all ages as a way to include and encourage participation in labyrinth walking.

Then, the novel coronavirus shut things down. Poof!  Gone. Unfortunately, I have not heard from them and often wonder what they did for blessing the space.

From Trauma to Healing

August 10th a straight-line wind called a derecho swept through Eastern Nebraska, all Iowa, and into Illinois and parts of Indiana.  The powerful winds up to sustained 140 mph struck Eastern Iowa hardest. Thousands of trees toppled in the storm. Clean up will continue well into 2021.

From this trauma emerged Edith Starr Chase, a woman with a vision to create a healing space from the derecho wood.  Teaming with Wickiup Hill Learning Center, Edith helped site the location. The staff mowed a space and laid down mulch.  In September Edith, Becky and I blessed the space. A few days later on a mild October weekend, Edith began placing stumps for a five-circuit labyrinth.  Edith has such vision and energy in designing all sorts of labyrinths from tiny three circuit ones for elementary children to hand-sized finger labyrinths to painted ones on school playgrounds to ones of recovered tree stumps. She created a beautiful, sacred space.  Easily accessible, private yet nearby, adjacent to a marsh and prairie.

Honoring the Space by Walking

I’ve walked it a few times and on the Winter Solstice Edith hosted a labyrinth walk that over 50 people attended in the early evening.  Families in cars streamed in. All wore masks. Mrs. Claus greeted each, offered a votive to carry, guided them in, and thanked them as they left. A candy cane, an offer to enjoy a warm beverage at the kiosk, and an invitation to take a finger labyrinth she had created all completed the evening of peace and appreciation. After the first group of people left and before the next ones arrived, I quietly walked the derecho labyrinth.
Creating sacred space out of chaos. Well done, Edith.

Not All Walks Are Satisfactory

A prairie

Winter Walk

Late in the year, I walked an outdoor labyrinth I have known for a few years. The setting is pleasant enough.  It sits in a large prairie with mature oaks on a hill as a backdrop. Yet, there is something unsettling about it.  I am not alone in my feeling.  It is rather removed from the parking lot, down a long path, with other diverging paths. Which path to take? Others have noted that is it too big to comfortably walk.  Almost like a forced march. Something rubs the wrong way when I walk it.  Yet, leaving and following a different path across the prairie proved to be a pleasant walk.

Veriditas Finger Labyrinth Walks

Finger Labyrinth

Weekly finger walks through Veriditas.

The pandemic canceled the Veriditas Council’s plans for a Renewal Day in The Black Hills. After a pause, the group worked on and is sponsoring a Virtual Renewal Day on January 16, 2021. One Veriditas member expressed interest in re-scheduling perhaps for 2022.  Glad to hear people are looking forward to the future.

Veriditas itself quickly began scheduling weekly finger labyrinth walks that I attended. People from all over the world regularly participate on Fridays.  Including Christmas Day! Australia, Africa, Europe, South America, Canada, and the United States. The director and founder host webinars a few times a month on different labyrinth topics. Council members have graciously stepped up and presented. Facilitator trainings have moved on-line.  More people can participate and become certified. Successfully branching out because of the topsy turvy world.

Intriguing Seasons of the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth

We began and ended 2020 with mild weather. Then, by the first week of January winter arrived. Cold, windy, lots of snow.  Warm temperatures melted the lovely snowshoe snow turning it into treacherous ice. Walking with trek poles was the order of the day.

Spring seemed long in coming and then summer burst upon us.  First rain. Then dry spells. Then, August 10th! Damn, that was a lot of wind and rain.

Surprisingly the labyrinth did come back mostly.  Tall grasses stayed lopped over, but the blue lobelia that always intrigues me showed up in unusual places. Friends helped with the massive yard clean up and together we restored the labyrinth.  And, each day I did walk it.  Right after the storm, I had to be content to thread my way to the center and stand in appreciation. Then, when the circuits were cleared, I went back to walking the full labyrinth.

Seasons

Early spring walking the path is an exercise in stepping around puddles. The path is checked with mole ridges. When the weather warms and a gentle rain falls, worm castings dot the path. The burned edges are full of winter stalks and promise. Summer mowing and trimming are part of the spiritual practice. Fall is when we burn the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth.  Always a thrill. In winter wearing snowshoes is fun. Occasionally, a snow person shows up. Sometimes at the entry. Other times along the path.  Once, even sitting on the bench taking in the view.

Sunrises. Sunsets. The heat of the day. When the wind blows. Hurtling rain and gentle zephyrs.  I’ve walked in all weather for over three years now.

So, 2020 came to a close. We still wait and wonder.  I still pause and ask: How is mine to be? What is mine to know? What is mine to do? Answers are there.

Although 2020 has been topsy turvy people have adapted and created sacred and safe spaces for all. May we continue to create in 2021.

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