October 16, 2008


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.

Walking the labyrinth


kenju said...

Maybe you should walk it naked...LOL

I haven't done a labyrinth walk in many years. I wish we had one close by.

Cathy said...

I just did a post on labyrinth music on RGBP. I would love to see this labyrinth in your post.

jo(e) said...

Cathy: You were writing about the labyrinth while I was walking one!

The black and white diagram you used for your post is the Chartres design -- which is the design of this labyrinth.

I've never used music while walking a labyrinth: I think I'd find it distracting.

crazymumma said...

You know. i rarely comment, but I visit frequently.

and always i wonder at the freedom your life seems to have.

S. said...

Sometimes the thing you need from your friends is a way to change the angle you're using to see yourself. You still put down what you needed to at the beginning of the walk, but you weren't walking away from it, you were walking towards yourself.

I walk a path in the woods near my house three times a week, and I usually stop for ten minutes or so to let the water of the creek carry my thoughts for awhile, but it often feels like I'm just walking myself into deeper ruts. Sometimes just walking in the other direction helps.

Sandie said...

I love labyrinths. I used to build one each spring during Lent and used it all summer and fall. I haven't done it for a few years due to life conflicts, but I hope to build a permanent one in the next year or two. I really like the Celtic 13 circuit one best.