Heed the call and walk out into the world. Be fully present in each moment. Grow your connection with Spirit, Goddess, Source, Higher Power, God, The Force, whatever name you give it. Strengthen your connection with humans, animals, and the Earth. Walk with intention, seeking the sacred in every moment…as often as you remember, and more often every day.
I led a group of walkers in the labyrinth at Morningstar Lutheran Church. It was in the 40’s and people were bundled up tight. This intrepid group came because they wanted to feel the power of peace that came over them in prior walks. The “newbies” were there because their friend said the labyrinth would surprise them.
We wrote about what we’d like to let go of to make room for wonder, for peace, and for all the things life is really supposed to be about. After (safely) setting fire to what they’d written, the walkers set foot on the winding path. I walked clockwise around the lunations of the labyrinth, holding and containing space for their journeys.
As we walked, I noticed the slight tinkling of the wind chime high in the trees. I felt the crunch of leaves underfoot. The air was brisk. I heard the swish of people’s arms against their jackets, and noticed everyone slowing down as they moved further into the labyrinth. As they stood in the center, I felt such satisfaction in knowing that the labyrinth was doing its job – allowing everyone to have the experience they were meant to have.
As the walkers worked their way back out, I switched direction and walked counter-clockwise to shift the energy back toward the outer world. Each person turned and stood for a moment to acknowledge what they’d received as they walked, then sat down to quietly reflect until everyone was finished walking.
When we settled down for a chat, one walker said she’d been “pushed out” by the labyrinth, ending up back at the entrance far sooner than she expected. She said she’d asked a question and gotten an answer quite quickly, but didn’t like the answer she received. When she started over in the labyrinth, she again found herself having taken a “wrong” turn somewhere and was back at the entrance quite quickly. As my teacher likes to say, “everything that happens in the labyrinth is a metaphor.” When I asked her where in her life she was experiencing this same phenomenon, she laughed. The labyrinth did its job.
Another walker said she’s been holding onto something at work – something annoying that she wanted to release. As soon as she burned her written statement, she felt free and was able to enjoy some calm and freedom as she walked. The labyrinth did its job.
The labyrinth always does its job which, as I see it, is to allow us to bring what we need to let go of, to examine or to ask for help with along for our walk. The group is silent, but messages always come, probably because we’ve slowed down enough to notice what life’s been trying to teach us all along.
In 2013, I had the opportunity to build a labyrinth on Martha Beck’s North Star Ranch in Central California. With the help of some friends on her ranch, I laid out a pattern and my helpers and I laid stones we’d gathered from all over the ranch as well as the surrounding area. I love all my creations, but this one has always held a special place in my heart. Since I live on the other side of the country, I’ve only had a chance to walk it a time or two since it was created.
Last time I was there, Martha apologized for the condition of the labyrinth. She was worried that I’d be disappointed by the amount of leaves and twigs along the path, or upset that some of the rocks that had been kicked by horses. I reminded her that labyrinths, whether indoor or outdoor are pretty ephemeral; they change in nature with each walker’s steps (and energy), and even more so BY nature. Horses, squirrels, deer, fox, bears and many other creatures make their way through the arroyos of North Star Ranch. They all leave their mark, just like the ancient fossils found in the rocks that border the labyrinth’s path, changing it as they walk through it in their own way.
Martha recently decided it was time to sell the ranch and move on. She created this video to share a story about some of the magical experiences she and others had there. The first thing I noticed when seeing the labyrinth was the grass. I’d only been there in either summer or during a severe drought. It was amazing to see all those new, green blades growing in the center of the labyrinth and along its’ sides. Some people might be upset by the “mess” of it, but not me. The labyrinth’s just doing its’ job, quietly supporting life – spiritually and ecologically – just by its’ presence.
I wonder who will next live at the ranch, and who will walk the path we created. I’m sure the labyrinth they find there will look different than it looks today, and I’m glad for that. Stones erode, mulch fades, grass grows or dies, twigs fall…it’s all as it’s supposed to be. The labyrinth will live on in whatever form it’s meant to, for as long as it’s meant to. Kind of like us.
During a recent walk with my Charlotte Labyrinth Walks Meetup group, I noticed that one of the walkers did something unusual: he entered the labyrinth and walked straight into the center, where he remained for quite a while. He then walked out of the center, following the path outward. Shortly thereafter, he turned around and followed the path back into the center.
I usually start off the walks by telling people a bit about labyrinths and always remember to say that there’s no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth. And yet I found myself looking at what “the guy who ignored the path” was doing, wondering why he chose to do it a different way, and what that was about.
When we gathered in a circle after the walk, I told him I’d noticed. He said he felt a very strong pull to start at the center, and then go out into the world, so to speak, and then back to the center. “Why wouldn’t I want to go to the center first,” he asked.
It’s never occurred to me to do that. I want to try it the next time I’m in a labyrinth. And, I’m going to take some time to think about where else in my life I’m blindly following some path because that’s the way I’ve always done it, or have been taught to do it, or because others are walking a certain way.
After all, isn’t it a good idea to get centered, to ground oneself in peace before heading out into the world? For some of us, it just makes more sense to turn a traditional path “backwards.” I’m grateful for his lesson.
Where in your life could walking in a new way provide some new perspective?