5 walks: shanti

labyrinth2Shanti is a Sanskrit word which is often translated “peace beyond any understanding of it” I got a little more understanding this week. My friend from Queens, a writer and self professed ‘spiritual tourist’ went to Lancaster PA to have an authentic Amish experience and invited me along. Driving out after work, I noticed how the landscape became more and more expansive, the occasional farm in my county gave way to swaths of farms. She and I met at Lancaster Brewing Company, near Franklin and Marshall College, very college-town.   But then I followed her to the farm where she was staying. In the deep dark, the burros penned to my left just a few feet away stared at me with enormous eyes. A large guest house, with electricity for the guests, but nevertheless simple and remote. A beautiful pale orange cat cried to come in and played with us for an hour, before crying to leave. I had to go to work in the morning, I fell into a deep sleep in my plain room, and woke up at 5 am to an incredible sunrise emerging from the mist, a pond, cornfields, horses, cows, a woman in a bonnet putting blankets on the clothes line. The picture could have been painted 200 years ago and nothing would have changed.

August 6 Walk 20 : I was in another state of being after the peaceful night, short sleep, long drive and intense day at work. I thought of my brother who told me he had walked the labyrinth at his law school after studying all night for a particular difficult test. His experience was heightened because he walked it backwards. I couldn’t even contemplate that. But I began contemplating my brother, I admire him so much in his his integrity in all things. I left the labyrinth realizing that although I wasn’t present to every step, my thoughts had been good, useful ones.

August 7 Walk 21 : The next morning I woke up feeling very strong yet free mentally. My inner monologue on the walk took in the twists and turns with a bit of hilarity. The morning is the best time to walk, but I often don’t take the time to sit in the center. And the morning is when the right top quadrant is usually flooded, but I have learned to scale the rocks and except this bit of difficulty.

August 8 Walk 22: On this morning, I did take the time to sit in the center, and know that I was at my center. It’s a dual experience, gazing at the rock paths in my immediate surroundings and then beyond to the flowers and the church—but knowing at the same time that I am gazing at my own inner life’s workings and the world outside it in co-existence.

August 8 Walk 23: After work the same day, the pull to the labyrinth was strong. There seems an infinite observations to be made in the finite confines of the garden and labyrinth at St. Jude and the Nativity. Plants I had not before noticed, such as the rose bushes at the outside of the gate or the white blossoms like snowballs on two of outer most points in the garden. I cried at the center, again feeling that I was at the core of my being. A tiny new maples tree was growing at the center of the labyrinth.

August 9 walk 24:  All morning, I argued with myself–finish straightening the house or walk? The walk won out half way through the straightening. It was hot outside, but the path was cooled by the shade tree.  New fuscia flowers bloom at the gate.  I sat at the center and felt grounded, just gazing at beauty, not so far inside myself, but at peace.

Later after a disturbing phone conversation, I escaped to the other labyrinth. I found that my heart was pounding hard in the center.  A family walked by and stared me while I was in the center, standing with arms by my side, inside myself and outdoors at the same time and I felt uncomfortable. The father and his small daughter then began to walk the labyrinth, as I journeyed out they were going in, the father walked slowly with his hands behind him, his daughter skipped around and used the red bricks which delineate the path as her preferred walk.



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