Notes from a Pilgrim’s Year of Labyrinths

Teri P. is an articulate, sensitive pilgrim of Labyrinths.  Below Teri shares insights from a year of walking labyrinths in the Eastern Iowa area.

“First time in the labyrinth: Maundy Thursday April 17, 2014

“(Christ) Episcopal Church – Replica of the Chartres Labyrinth. Eight people there. I felt like people were walking fast. Faster than I wanted to. I tried to do the walking meditation as I was taught, but I felt pressured to keep moving. I walked with one foot ahead of the other. Reminded me of walking on the balance beam as a kid. Made me think of Dad. Marion said gymnastics must be where I got my good posture. No other impressions except calm.

“Regis Labyrinth:  Saturday April 19, 2014- after a run.

“This labyrinth was a tribute to a beloved teacher. Stones along the path are engraved with inspirational words, “Patience”  “Courage”  “Pray”.  At the center is John 14:6.  Situated on the hill behind the school gives the labyrinth a restful feeling of solitude. I think I shall call it my” local”, like you do with a pub. Just a few blocks from my house.

“Solon Labyrinth: May Day 2014

“There was a cold rainy drizzle. When you drive onto the property you see a large round barn. Very cool.

“But around the back of the barn it gets even better. This massive stone arch is perched on the bank of a pond. It was laid up dry, by someone who understood the principle. I made Marion take a picture of me standing under it. As I walked the circuits I began thinking, “if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams….” At the center I moved from one rose petal to the next and wondered where this energy came from and where it would take me. I don’t completely understand, but I seem to feel lighter each time.

Prairiewoods, World Labyrinth  Day : May 3, 2014

“Marion tried to organize a walk, but she and I were the only ones to show up. Marion knows all the bird calls and frog sounds and any other sounds along the path to the labyrinth. When we arrived there were four young women there. Two inside the labyrinth, two outside. We watched the two young woman as they walked. One carried a stick and wrote in the sandy surface of the circuits. Marion measured the energy in the labyrinth – the dowsing rod circled 18 times – clockwise. I walked with two turkey feathers. Tail for guidance, wing for strength, according to Marion. The girls left and a deer showed up to watch. Deer totem means you are highly sensitive and have strong intuition in Native American culture – according to Linda. (When mom died and deer would show up at unexpected spots she started saying Mom sent them to tell us everything was good.)

Indian Creek Nature Center: August 1, 2014

 “Hot, buggy, beautiful sunset. I think we started at 7:00p.m. The prairie grass completely hides the labyrinth from the road. The path is mowed among the wild flowers. Not sure how many people there were. Eight? The path was wide enough to pass people so I did not feel I had to hurry. I set my intention. Not to worry. Things at work were getting to me. I carried a feather and tried to feel my way. I tried to smell and touch and listen – more than I saw.  Some of the flowers you could smell easily – I only knew the obvious ones. When I got to the center I started thinking about being in a vortex, wondering why the path was the same in and out, and how winding a wire is part of a battery, isn’t it? I walked out feeling happy – while in the labyrinth I did not think about work at all.

Laughing Labyrinth:  Nov 1, 2014

 “The labyrinth is open for walking. I arrive around 8:00 a.m. No one is there. I park my car, take a feather, ring the bell and announce my intention. “Help me with my grief.” Is that an acceptable intention? I still don’t know a lot about this. It has been two years since Dad died and I still miss him a lot. I try to be present. I look at what remains of the flowers. I smile at the metal dragon fly that looks very much like the one in my yard. I wonder what the magnolia tree looked like in the spring. I take my time. I stay in the center for a while, knowing that Marion told me that resolution does not always come while you are here, sometimes it happens on the way out, sometimes days later. So I make my way out, redeposit my feather and am ready to meet the day.”

Leaning Into the Light: A Metaphor for Relationships in Organizations

Hot. Humid. Still. Not exactly an optimal day or time to walk a labyrinth. Necessary.

For weeks I have known that the labyrinth needed tending. The blooming grasses have shot up toward the sun and lodged over. Some completely block the path. Searching for the light, others have crowded into and narrowed the path. Deer have ripped off plant tops. The bird bath is dry. One area has too much sun. Plants are overly exuberant. Another has too much shade. Plants are withered. Creeping Charlie has overwhelmed the stepping stones. Too much and too little of everything. Everything feels out of balance.

Pausing, I begin to notice the beauty. My attitude shifts. Butterflies and other pollinators busily work the flowers. The occasional, slight breeze passes grass pollens plant to plant. The lyrical chatter of the goldfinches undulating across the yard brightens the day. In the shade a random breeze cools my skin. Suddenly the path widens – grace of my imperfect planning. Black Eyed Susans and nodding onions ready to harvest. Tiny purple blooms peek out from the robust prairie forbs. The magnolia pods are set for next spring.

As I notice the plants leaning into the light, Universe and I have a conversation. Behaviors are the manifestation of the negative energies that have persisted in the building and congregation. “What is my role?”

“A labyrinth walk for healing.”

Then, the counter thought: “Those who choose to heal will be here. Those who choose not to heal will not.” (And those who have been deeply wounded, will need to decide.) So, preaching to the choir. But it doesn’t invalidate the experience.

A Pema Chodron quote keeps coming to mind. “Our true nature is like a precious jewel: although it may be temporarily buried in mud, it remains completely brilliant and unaffected. We simply have to uncover it.”

“Simply.” That is the rub. Robyn M-K and Maria K’s service Sunday spoke to “covenant.” From the French covenir and earlier – Latin – covenire – “come together.” About “relationship.” What kind of relationships do we wish to have and in what ways can we move most successfully in these directions of “right relationships”? How do we relate to those who are hurt – even by their own actions? And those on the side who receive the hurt.

Unanswered.

On the way out I re-entered the heat and sun, spotting blooms that I missed on the way in. Joyful. I pushed aside the lodged grasses, intent on my mission. Blocks yielded easily.

Now what. Tranquility isn’t always easy to sort through.