Within walking distance of Signing Woman's family place — the beautiful old camp where we wild women gather each fall — a labyrinth is built onto the shore of the lake. It's made of mulch and brick, with circling paths that follow the pattern of the stone labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral. Walking the labyrinth is a moving meditation, a spiritual practice that is centuries old.
At least once each day during our four days in the mountains, I walk down to the labyrinth with my friends. We tramp along the narrow road, scuffling through piles of dried leaves, past stone fences and summer cottages and trees in bright colour. We joke and laugh about all kinds of things, but sometimes we talk seriously, too, about our spiritual lives. "I feel like I'm always trying to let go of stuff," I complained to Quilt Artist as we neared the labyrinth one evening. "Always, I'm working on detachment."
She laughed sympathetically at my tone, and then gave me a hug. "Maybe this time you should think about what it is you're walking toward."
I always take a few minutes to sit on the ground before I enter, saying a prayer to quiet myself down. When I begin walking, I begin the meditation, pushing aside obsessive thoughts, setting them to the side, allowing myself to walk deeper and deeper into a silence. I'm walking away from thoughts, walking through emotions, and moving towards myself.
When I reach the center, I sit down on the mulch. Around me, I am just barely aware of my friends moving in circles, their energy creating this safe place. The wind sends leaves fluttering and acorns bouncing. The waves on the lake match my breathing. In this safe place, I allow myself to just be, letting the energy uncurl from my spine like a snake moving along a warm rock.