March 30, 2021. I turn to a labyrinth to focus inward – the image here is my frequent walking meditation choice as getting there involves minimal traffic and usually I have it to myself (my preference, although there are gifts in walking a labyrinth with a group.) Since discovering labyrinths back in 1999, they have become my visual metaphor for “life’s path”. In both, the goal is “centered” where pestering perplexities sort of make sense and a calm settles in, acceptance of conditions and recognition that conditions almost surely equal opportunity, even if details are elusive. An alternative to walking a labyrinth, I also turn to finger labyrinths – small enough to fit in a lap, circuits traced with finger tip while eyes remain closed.
Bothered ongoing through the past year about divisiveness in attitudes toward politics, COVID precautions, and what my role might be in the midst of what our country is going through, I recently took my befuddlement to the labyrinth. Stepping into the path, I thought of finger labyrinths I’m creating for a group experience in August, puzzling how to add a tactile confirmation of having reached center (to ease the urge to open eyes to check!) This poem emerged as I walked toward labyrinth center curious: How will I know on my life path when I’ve reached center?
If you count life center as mid-range in years lived, I am surely way past center. But if life center is the point of centered awareness of why I exist at all … well, I need to keep going.
December 12, 2020. In the mood for something other than pandemic and politics, I’ve been out in the sunshine pondering many curiosities. One that came (back) to mind was my not-quite encounter with a raven on the mountain above Cloudcroft NM. Back in October. Enjoy.
December 5, 2018. Once upon a time, when younger and more flexible, I would lay out a labyrinth on the mountain up above Cloudcroft NM each summer. In a national forest, one “leaves nothing and takes only pictures” – hence no permanent stone-lined labyrinth. My challenge included: repeatable installs, rain proof, cattle proof, materials must fit in the back of an already-crammed car.
Each summer, I would spend a spiritually connected day creating the labyrinth before the group arrived, and a frenzied couple of hours at close of the gathering – pulling up anchored straps and packing materials snugly back into their container.
Near the labyrinth center, I placed a bowl of polished gemstone fragments – and encouraged walkers to stir the collective energy as they passed.
This collage puts a smaller capture of the bowl near center over a larger capture of stones within the bowl
October 23, 2018. Once a year the Lone Star Flute Circle (Native American flutes) meets at Austin’s premier garden (and more) center – The Natural Gardener. Unique flute voices float out from the porch of the main building, hovering over ever-changing seasonal plants and yard sculptures. Husband Gary stays on the porch, taking turns with the others, contributing several of his flute voices. I wander the grounds, returning intermittently to the porch, listening to flutes all the while.
Except – as I approached the labyrinth in the back corner of the property, flutes were overridden by a raven calling, calling, calling. The stark shift in tone from flute to caw jogged my thoughts back to words read earlier – glass half full – calling as insistently as the raven – commencing a labyrinth walk focused on capacity to add more to my glass.
Referenced: RobertOkaji.com – “Letter to Harper From Halfway To The Horizon”
October 2, 2017. A few days ago, on a ranch out in the Texas hill country, a group of us spread ourselves out for individual silent contemplative wanders. Our intended focus: “Earth connection”. I headed for the labyrinth, which consistently helps me focus … and is made of Nature’s materials.
Even on the labyrinth, focus is vulnerable to the unexpected. But then, paying attention to Nature’s surrounding energies is, in fact, connecting with Earth.
February 9, 2017. My inner poet and inner photographer often trip over one another vying for best view of current circumstances. Sometimes they work in cahoots. This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge “Shadow” sent me scurrying through files for a specific cahoots – on Austin’s Town Lake Labyrinth, October 2007. One of many savored labyrinth walks, this day pops instantly to mind periodically – a serious reminder to not take myself so seriously.
August 16, 2016. More reflections from recent Gathering Of Circles (more at Gathering Of Circles on FaceBook).
In 2003, my first experience of GOC included a strong call to create a labyrinth! Located in the Lincoln National Forest, the protocol is “leave nothing, take only pictures”. My challenge was to find a weather-proof, terrain-adaptable portable labyrinth. Back home, gears turning, I improvised a “ribbons” labyrinth that fit into a duffel bag, thus fit into limited car space for transport. Ribbons are harness material from an equine supply – extremely durable for years of use.
In 2004, laying the labyrinth put me down on my knees alone on Mother Earth, for eight hours. Phenomenal experience. Subsequent years, the laying went a little faster, but always a ritual of focus and endurance. Time I savor still.
But I got older, less flexible, and had to stop laying the labyrinth. I missed it. Others missed it. And last year, I agreed to pass the materials to younger hands. This year Chris and Christine spread the ribbons, created the familiar path in a new location – beginning anew. My first walk was soon after sunrise, new light shimmering, ribbons inviting!
September 3, 2015. Recent references to “ten years since Katrina” have stirred the need to complete a promise to myself. Katrina stirs up memories of Hurricane Rita in September 2005 (one month after Katrina). My area of Texas was inundated with clogged roads as people evacuated the Houston area. This post is a tribute to a grey tabby almost surely let loose from one of many cars stalled along Highway 71 in Bastrop – to whoever let her go – and to Fern (Deborah) Hill of Pine Crone Labyrinth Retreat (just off Highway 71). Fern found the grey tabby sitting on her labyrinth, and after considering her probable arrival logistics, named the kitty Rita.
I met Fern through The Labyrinth Society. In February of 2007, I visited her labyrinth in Bastrop. Labyrinths often offer up surprises, but this was the only one (to date) to include grey tabby energy. Rita hung out on the labyrinth and liked to participate in walks. A labyrinth with a real, live spirit animal guide!
Fast forward to September 2011. Large areas of Bastrop and its surrounding pine forest succumbed to wildfires. After the fire, I learned that Fern had died three months earlier; and that her retreat center had burned. But the labyrinth, being rock, was still there. I felt a pull to go and walk it, to honor Fern (and Rita). Also, the energy of fire is both destructive and renewing. I wanted to experience that. And yet – I could not do it.
Now, four more years, it’s September again. And yesterday I drove to Bastrop to see what might remain where Pine Crone Labyrinth Retreat had been.