I did not dress for aerobic endeavor.
I did not snap the leash on the dog we should have named Lugnut.
I got into the car. Hungry for sole-to-soul wonder, I visited a local labyrinth.
We all know walking benefits the body as well as the spirit, and mind. “One recent study showed a 20% improvement in memory and attention after people strolled through an arboretum!” writes Shirley S. Wang. “Even viewing pictures of beautiful scenery had a positive, though lesser, effect on their productivity.”*
If you’ve braved a cornfield or hedge maze, you know there’s usually more than one path. The wily maze designer offers you choices.
It’s easy to get turned around, or fooled. Even lost.
The labyrinth designer offers one path that leads you gradually, though never directly, to its center. No dead ends.
I flunked Labyrinth 101
At a retreat, amid too many shoes walking the modest labyrinth’s circuitous path, mostly, I tried not to giggle. Picture bottleneck traffic. On foot. My Tevas inadvertently rammed the clogs ahead of me. Apologies, then a lurch as a Rockport behind me rammed my heel.
My second, solo attempt, at Wellspring Labyrinth, near Mt. Rainier, convinced me that reorientation and riches arise from this meditative practice, used by seekers for centuries.
This sign pointed to the path’s beginning.
In a labyrinth, each step forward invites us to heed Creation for its own inimitable self, and for possible news of its Maker.
It’s a slow gift, shaped from attention, paid. And time, given.
“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” —Henry Miller
Release, Receive, Return
Walking a labyrinth asks of us three distinct yet intertwined gifts:
- our intentional release of mental/emotional stress
- our willingness to receive something new, in exchange
- our thoughtful return from the center to our (never) commonplace lives
Who hasn’t waited for guidance, or peace—sometimes so long it seems mold starts creeping over our shoes? Our soul?
At the labyrinth that day I flagged down Hamster Brain, spinning its wheel. Switched over to Coast Mode.
Needing a focus, I settled on this phrase: “I am walking my way into peace.” It seemed a promising thought to repeat, as needed.
Are you game?
Click on the embedded track, consider closing your eyes, and I’ll narrate you through a woodland space you’ll imagine. (No fair listening while trolling Facebook.)
With any labyrinth, as with life itself, to complete the course we trust its designer.
We release to God what weighs on our minds and hearts. We pay attention to small things along the way because the simplest details often speak deeply into our lives. A ladybug. Dew on a fallen leaf. In a moment, sight becomes insight.
We absorb that insight, along with a dose of peace, and carry them forward, into our everyday-knocking-around-the-neighborhood lives.
Thank you for cyber-strolling with me. I’d love to hear how this worked—or didn’t work—for you.
Would you like me to include more of these guided scenes on the website?
I’d also enjoy hearing your experience with labyrinths . . .
CREDITS AND CRAZY IDEAS
*Shirley S. Wang, Wall Street Journal: http://tinyurl.com/o7hqdzx
My thanks to sound engineer, Bill Klein!
People are endlessly resourceful. If you don’t have access to a labyrinth or have mobility issues, try one of these ideas.
Fill a 13 x 9 inch pan with fine sand, or sugar. Trace a simple or complex pathway to the quiet center. Visit http://tinyurl.com/odpruku for pattern ideas. Holding a prayer, a question, or calming thought in your mind, relax, breathe deeply, and walk your fingers along the path . . .
Using a long rope, create a spiral on the floor or ground. Choose a verbal steppingstone from which to embark, such as “Show me the way,” or “God, I release ____ into your hands.” Or pose a question. You’ll know what’s right for you.
Move along your makeshift path gently. Hold your steppingstone thought without urgency, without trying to force a solution. Notice what you’re feeling without condemning it. Often new understanding emerges through our resistance.
When you reach the center, pause. Picture leaving what you need to release there. Sometimes a gesture is helpful.
When you feel ready, turn and retrace your steps. You may wish to write down new thoughts that came to you.
For those living in or near Spokane, WA, visit the Betty Stratton Memorial Labyrinth in Colbert, WA, on the property of Colbert Presbyterian Church, Hwy 2 (pictured at the top of this post).
All are welcome!
For other labyrinths in the Spokane area, visit: http://tinyurl.com/oevhsv8
For labyrinths in other areas, visit: http://tinyurl.com/qa6xcw3
If you’re in need of retreat and feeling free with your cash, visit Wellspring Spa, just outside Mt. Rainier National Park, Ashford, WA. More here: http://wellspringspa.com/considerations/