I walked in solitude for two days this week. The first day, St. Jude and the Nativity held the Blessing of the Animals. I parked right in front of the little ceremony, smiled at the dogs and their owners and Kathy, resplendent in her robes, and walked over to the labyrinth. I hoped I didn’t disturb them, but I needed to walk. The leaves on the ground and the cool winds reminded me that it is well into October. On the next walk, on the next day a group of teens played in the lot very close to the labyrinth. They had basketballs and soccer balls, and were both dribbling and kicking their balls in a new game they had created. I liked them so much, and enjoyed winding my path as they chattered behind the trees. A ball landed on the labyrinth. My feet would not leave the path, and the tall young girl in a soccer uniform and knee socks sensed it and ran over, apologizing. I like that when on the path that I cannot veer from it.
On my third walk, I was joined by my two dear friends who came to see me from Queens. They had greeted me on the street like two kids, jumping up and down, looking like sisters, although they could be mother and daughter. We went to the labyrinth together a bit later in the day, and as we wound around each a short distance from each other, I was silently thankful for their presence. My younger dear friend, who I have loved profoundly since the very first moment I met her was last, and it felt right that she was on a different part of the path than my contemporary and me. I pray for a long happy life for her, and for contentment for my other dear friend as we walked closer to the center. She herself had gotten a message that day about santosha from her yogini niece. We then took a long walk on the Forbidden Drive of Fairmont Park. Later we three talked late into the night.
They left the next day, and after serenely sharing with them my surroundings which have offered me peace, I suddenly felt empty and sad. The man who has begun walking alongside me, as suddenly as a turn on the labyrinth, took me to Bryn Athyn later in the day. The grounds and the buildings were transporting. The rarity and immensity of the vistas frightened me, even as I luxuriated in them. I thought for sure there must have been a labyrinth on such sacred grounds and kept searching for one. I know when I get back to the labyrinth I will once more feel at home.