I took a drive to the labyrinth, although I had been there in the morning. Kathy, the pastor greeted me and we introduced ourselves for the first time. We had just been saying hello for three evenings. Her eyes are sea green and so clear. The night before I had seen her standing with Midas slightly off the grounds and she seemed very much both of the earth and of the spirit. On this particular evening she was weeding the garden, and I shyly offered to weed when I came to walk, which she said was I was so very welcome to do, as they never could keep up with it. She showed me where the buckets were, and then mentioned that she knew I wanted to walk. I told her how wonderful it had been for me to walk the labyrinth.
walk 14: July 30 I love the long stretches on the path the most. Sometimes, the journey in or the journey out is so long, and sometimes it is so short.
Kathy and I said goodbye and she told me how happy she was when someone used the labyrinth.
I had an email notice from the Labyrinth Society. It led me to their website, and their labyrinth finder. I decided to see if the St. Jude and the Nativity labyrinth was listed. It was. As well as another labyrinth, also very close to my house, on the same road. It is at the Sisters of St. Joseph Convent in Chestnut Hill, one of the oldest and most beautiful neighborhoods in Philadelphia and just 2 miles southeast of my house. The description said it was 60 feet wide. My labyrinth is a smaller version of the Chartres labyrinth, this one was Classical and larger, two things I was intrigued about when I thought about exploring other labyrinths. I knew I would visit it.
This evening I realized that I could not go to the labyrinth without gardening gloves and possibly even weeding tools, after telling Kathy I would weed. I scoured the house and found 1 glove, no pairs. I thought I would head southeast, to get the gloves at a nice old fashioned hardware store and check out the other labyrinth before weeding and walking ‘mine’.
I have noticed 3 things since I started walking the labyrinth.
My eyesight is extremely acute.
My breathing and heart rate are slow and full after I walk.
I have lost the ability to find my way in my car…
I went northwest instead of southeast. But there was a Lowes so I was fine. Flowered gardening gloves and an evil looking weeding tool. I saw a flowering plant that caught my eye, like peppermint candy. I first thought to get it for my front bed at the house. The tag said it was verbena, one of my favorite scents. Once I picked it up, I knew I wanted to place it in the garden. It would be my little memorial to Eartha that I had been pondering.
Kathy was nowhere to be found when I got there, but many weeding tools were out, so I placed the flowers where they seemed to belong in the garden. 5 rabbits chased each other and birds were taking short walks on the labyrinth. I began to weed the circle which holds the statue of the girl with her arms outstretched and birds perched along her arms and the fountain. I took a little patch of it, and then the perimeter of the circle. I saved a maple sapling or two and became worried that I didn’t know which were weeds, so I began to focus more on plants growing between bricks. I lost myself in weeding.
Walk 15: July 31. I was quite tired when I finally felt I had earned my walk, and my left shoe hurt my foot so I limped inward, lame, dirty and tired, like so many who followed Jesus, I thought, but were welcome in His sight. When I sat down, I realized it was dusk. A crescent moon rose above the red maple and pink clouds. I felt that I was actually at the center of my being, and I cried in the center because at my center I was mournful and alone and scared but also grateful to be alive and in awe of the magnificence of the world, and sitting on the toadstool, surrendered over and placed my hands on the ground, and got back down to earth. On the journey out, I was so aware that the closer I thought I was, the further I was.
Filled with strength and peace, with a look back at the verbena plant which looked as if it had always lived there, I decided to try to find the other labyrinth.
The other labyrinth—
I parked on the designated road, wondered if the labyrinth had been replaced on the south side of the road by the large circular horse paddock that I found. The website had said the labyrinth was next to Chestnut Hill College, which reminds me of the beautiful College of New Rochelle. I now wished I had gone to my reunion when I drove through the stone gates of Chestnut Hill College. The wall around the college also housed the Sisters of St. Joseph. As I walked it was getting darker and darker, I finally found a part of the wall that was low enough. I saw a large stone circle. I had to find a break in the wall, and walk through the grass. A beautiful large statue of Jesus was at the entrance to the path of the labyrinth, and a stately church. The labyrinth was made entirely of bricks, also stately, in contrast to the charm of the humble stones and weeds of my labyrinth up the road. Red bricks interrupted the grey brick path. The Classical labyrinth, I learned, had longer stretches in one direction. The size of the labyrinth made the paths quite long. It was getting darker and darker, but I could follow. At the center I stood and reached my arms up to the sky. I felt the center, but the agony and ecstasy of walk 15 was not present, which was just fine with me. It was really dark on the journey out, but I made it, aware sometimes that I was walking on the perimeter very early, and inside very late in the journey. I walked back to my car a different way to avoid the grass and was startled by a statue and a small road that seemed to go underground, as if it were a tomb. It was too dark to make out and I was too scared to linger.
I am not going to count this as one of my walks for the challenge I set myself. As seductive as the other labyrinth is, I thought about the confines of choosing one labyrinth to commit to walk each day. We only get one body in this life and its length and shape of it is also not that much in our control as we might think. Santosha. Ah, if I had learned this earlier in life..
Walk 16: August 1. Morning. The sun was behind the clouds. The path was wet, but I managed to stay dry. At the center, I smiled at the charm of this labyrinth with its squat statues and weedy garden. I walked out and felt that fullness of heart and easy deep breath that I have come to depend upon.