Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Backyard Labyrinth

My husband Bill often calls our home Beryl's Monastery and in many ways it is. I am often here alone as Bill's work as a consultant takes him away from home for much of every week. I am blessed that my husband shares my desire to live spiritually. When he is home, we recite Lauds and Vespers together (sometimes the other liturgical hours) and we meditate together.

Bill is also responsible for the meditative paths we have around our house. One of these paths
features several meditation benches overlooking Lake Superior and circles the knoll where we buried my daughter Francesca's ashes. But by far the most amazing meditative path is the labyrinth he built for us (and for whoever else wants to use it).

A labyrinth is not to be confused with a maze. A labyrinth is path designed to lead purposefully, in tight concentric circles or spirals, toward a center space. The walker then retraces his/her steps from that center back to the beginning.

I think of the labyrinth as a physical metaphor for our life’s journey and the meditative walk one takes through a labyrinth as a mini-pilgrimage. Walking the labyrinth slowly calms and opens heart and mind. Used meditatively, the labyrinth is a vehicle for inner healing and transformation.

Ours is not a traditional labyrinth, one that follows a pattern such as those found in ancient cathedrals or monasteries. Our labyrinth conforms to the topography of our land. It is defined by the shape, the ruts and ridges, of the wildflower field in front of our home.

It looks quite pretty tucked among the grasses and wildflowers, its meandering spirals bordered with split logs and filled with wood chips with Lake Superior providing a gorgeous blue backdrop. Bill and I have been walking it since he first laid it out two years ago.

My favorite time to walk the labyrinth is after supper as the sun begins to set. In winter the labyrinth disappears under the snow, but in spring, summer, and fall, it provides a wonderful place to remember that life is a journey and to walk it attentively.

© Beryl Singleton Bissell 2008

See Road Writer for my travel blog.

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