With much joy, we finished our labyrinth yesterday, about lunch time. Labyrinths are a very old human creation, dating back at least 3000 years and probably beyond that. Unlike a spiral or circle, a labyrinth is not a shape from the non-human natural world, but instead something humans have to create, based on some simple rules. They have, however, shown up in different cultures in widely separated times and locations, indicating that we all are sisters and brothers who independently create similar things, or that we wander around a lot sharing ideas. Or both.
At the Center’s garden, we started with the simplest form of a ‘Cretan’ or ‘Troy Town’ labyrinth. We used rocks to mark the courses, as pre-historic Scandinavians did and as First Nations peoples of the American West did to mark medicine wheels. We used the “rocks” at hand, pieces of urban concrete rubble, painted by individual neighbors. On either end of the central labyrinth circles, we added a meander, related to those in the great church labyrinths of the Middle Ages such as Cluny. However, we set the end points by laying a line of rocks to show the cardinal directions, N and W on the “station” side, and E and S on the “tree” side (we incorporated a tree into the design).
Before laying out the stones, we prepared the space with music, playing old Morris tunes on pipe and tabor while walking round the outside of where we’d lay the rocks. Then the fun began. We’ve been painting stone for a month, part of our art program, and now we all joined in to pick rocks and set them in the design. Dozens of different people took park, it was what our garden ought to be, full of life and laughter (and maybe a little “yo momma” conflict, now and then). Ray and Fredrick, Cleo and Frances, our intern Michael, Daniel singing, Sheryl and Diane…more folks, watching, coming and going. And then, there it was.
Like a garden, a labyrinth is both something you make and something you do, and both parts are equally important. We walked it several time already, and it does have a magically calming, healing and centering impact on those who see it, breathe, and take a moment from their life journey to take a brief walk within, whatever their creed, whatever their condition, whatever challenges and blessings are now in their lives.