A Walk With Grief – After the Workshop

This is a total ramble. In spite of today’s grey skies, the day was warm.  I’d gone to sit in the laughing Labyrinth the day before.  But there was no laughter.  The magnolia tree held me in its embrace as I perched high up on a branch and leaned into her warm embrace. Eyes closed, I took in the sounds, smells, motion, and textures.     And I sat with Grief. Learning quickly that it’s hard to hold your balance high in a tree when Grief swirls around.

That evening, I delighted in the photo that Dan sent of the small reconstructed labyrinth on the north end of Cedar Lake, in Denville, NJ. It is indeed a sweet one and I felt incredibly sad, and a little mad at the time, when it first fell into disrepair.  That the original builders of the labyrinth had let it go to ruin.  But, I know that “way leads on to way.” (R. Frost)

I think it would be best to “decommission” a labyrinth once its life it done.  Neglect in any form – labyrinths, animals, relationships, belongings – diminishes us all.  I think we would do well to raise ourselves up.  Of course, that takes effort.  So, the things in my life that I no longer use, need, serve me well, I am trying to move through.  Some I respectfully discard because they are worn. (This from the girl who used to give her tooth brushes a formal burial! Think about it!  Tooth brushes and mouths are pretty intimate relationships!  Even now, I thank them politely for serving well.)  Still giving up, letting go, making sense of change is a grieving process.  One that is not ended.  We don’t “just get over it” or “move on” like society leads us to believe.  Grief bursts overwhelm us in the most inconvenient times. With all its “Inconvenient Truths”.

Other items in my life I look to find a new home with those who would appreciate them. And, others still….  Wow.  How hard it is to “hold your balance.”  Maybe that is part of the problem…trying to “hold.”

Mountain mint

Last year’s mountain mint is still fragrant when crushed between fingers.

Today, after teaching I walked the Prairie Labyrinth. (Another aside, the teaching  is really hard and I feel quite incompetent and impatient at times, too.  I had intended to structure the class to be the “guide on the side”, but in fact am “sage on the stage” and I am not very “sagey!”  I totally dislike the constant role. But, when the level of ability is so low.  The students need lots of direct instruction for now.  So, I look to their capability, which is high!  And, the students are making progress and are such wonderful people.  The question that persists is: How can I best support them as they move into new dimensions of their lives? One thing I do each day is to send blessings and healing energy to the building and all people associated with the location and the students as they begin their day.)

Back to the Prairie Labyrinth. The first sensory impression at the Prairie Labyrinth was the sound of swifts, chickadees, woodpeckers, and song sparrows, followed by the delightful visuals. Diving and soaring, flitting and perching, catching updrafts and tucking wings to dive. Then, the smells!  Even as spring bursts forth, last year’s Mountain Mint seed heads are fragrant – recalling the past and inviting the future all in the now.

Because “…it’s been a long winter and a cold spring,” not much seemed to be happening – except the splendid emerald green where Nature Center staff burned the prairie last fall. that’s a clue, Mrs. Patterson, so, I buried my nose in the ground and discovered all manner of things come alive!  First some fur – scat? Owl pellet?  (I guess that is not alive. The creature is quite dead.  But, some other creature will use the left overs.)  Then, the snow white land snail shells started to pop up against the chocolate earth.  The ground is alternately soft and hard.  The little hard mounds I discovered are this year’s growth  just under the surface.  Think of how a child’s gums swell after the milk teeth fall out and the permanent teeth hover just “under the surface” growing all the while even though little appears to be happening. In reality lots is happening.  Patience.


A hint of mint emerging from last year’s growth rubble.

I kept walking and wondering, taking pictures, thinking about how this labyrinth came to be; other labyrinths; spirals.  At one point as I rounded a corner, I was lost.  Truly, I could not get my bearings. The big rock, the brilliant green expanse.  In my mind I could not get my bearings, either. Disconcerting. Seems to be the “new normal” as the phrase goes.

I had seen lots of cool images of emerging spring – ant hills, tiny tips of rattlesnake master, purple-green of mint.  Then, the Center and a surprise! A turkey feather, a small pebble, and last year’s stalk of rattle snake master lay as gifts from an unknown pilgrim.  I stroked the feather, held the pebble and studied the worn veins of the plant. And, sat with Grief.

It was OK.  We are not always friendly, but today, it worked. Sometimes, I think it’s strange that at this time of year when we can say, “Welcome back sun,” things seem hard.  But, then history  steps in with the reminders.  Personal experiences and the international scene are pretty tough to “balance.”  Again, that word.  Does not mean to me static, but a gentle ebb and flow.  Growth – eventually.  Maybe.  The world feels too much sometimes.  Jim Kern, formerly a LA teacher at WHS and past director of Brucemore said to the students in Nancy’s class after September 2001, “Sometimes the world just throws up.” And it seems like it has not stopped!  This is the 21st Century for Heaven’s Sake!  Can’t we get along?  What’s with all the negativity?  April has such history all around us and to counter the media and past events and to bring all into perspective and light is…phew.  I’m tired.  And, that is just the stuff we all know about.

center stone

What a surprise to find the feather, pebble and stalk of rattlesnake master at the center

I continued to sit on the Center Stone with Grief, stroking the feather, turning the pebble.  What is my point? Where going? How support? How reconcile? How get movement? How to care? How to not care so much? Why missing my folks? Teaching? Professional development? Direction of or even to continue energy work? What’s with the world and how we treat each other? Why are we surprised when people do “bad” things? (given how man people in society typically behave).  Some one out there will say what we Geminis who sit in the introverted section of life dislike, ‘Oh, you think too much.’  Yeah? Yes, we do. And, it is not easy to be this way.  Maybe if more people actually did think and responded vs. reacted….Even talked to each other….listened …tried to walk in each others’ shoes….Yes, we Geminis think.  And, it is a pain.

At the same time I reveled in the sounds of the birds and the slow movement of the train which indicated a tie up further down the line. The sun was so nice.  Humidity was up and I about could feel my hair curl as it absorbed moisture. Even my hair absorbs too much stuff.

Then, I was ready to leave and saw some more cool things on the ground, in the distance.  I guess Grief came along, too, and worked in the Laughing Labyrinth with me weeding, raking, planting spring ephemerals.

This is just an odd ramble.

About marionpatterson

From the Heartland: Marion is a master educator, writer, Veriditas Trained and Certified Labyrinth Facilitator, a member of the Veriditas Council, creator and workshop promoter, and environmental educator. A Holy Fire II Usui and Holy Fire II Karuna Reiki Master Teacher, Healing Touch Spiritual Ministries Certified Practitioner (HTSM-CP), Advanced Integrated Energy Therapy practitioner she seeks to connect with others in their knowledge and spiritual quests. She leads Healing Talking Circles using the principles embraced by indigenous populations and in Restorative Justice Circles. She and her husband, Rich, co-own Winding Pathways LLC and live in Eastern Iowa. "Encouraging people to create wondrous yards." Go outside and Play!
This entry was posted in Labyrinth, learning, Magnolia Tree, Reflections, Senses and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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