Reflection on All Souls’ Labyrinth Walk
Background: In early October I began to plan a walk for All Souls’ Day. From 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The Laughing Labyrinth was open the entire time and I was generally available all day. Specifically I was on hand to explain labyrinths and guide pilgrims as they needed and wanted from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., noon to 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Publicity went out on Facebook, through Peoples Church Unitarian Universalist, Unity Church, Hands in Harmony massage spa, and my personal list of contacts.
Supplies: A friend helped make custom designed tags for pilgrims to write name(s) of people or pet(s), attach to a skewer (often used for grilling foods), and place in the labyrinth. I set the porch up with music, warm cider and cups, a table with the tags, pens, sticks, and feathers, flashlights (for dark times), and Kleenex. A basket of shells and some rocks from around the country were on the side next to trek poles (for balance) that pilgrims could also place in the labyrinth if they wished to.
People let me know ahead the time frames they wanted to come. And, some just showed up.
Process: My husband and I have created the sacred space of the 1080 Laughing Labyrinth over three years. In the early morning, I opened the space by giving thanks, walking it clockwise as I remembered, and closed it after dark with a grateful heart and walking counter clockwise, again reflecting both on the day and what this sacred space means to Rich and me.
After welcoming pilgrims and offering cider, I explained the procedure, about labyrinths as they needed the information, and that if they wanted to visit after their walk, just come back on the porch. Several people did just that.
All day I offered privacy to walkers, held the space, and felt the energy continue to build. It felt like appreciation, humor, and youthfulness. Indeed, this was reflected back to me in walkers’ comments and behaviors. Occasionally, I would observe from a distance, but overall allowed people their space.
Several people shared that walking the labyrinth was tops on their list for this busy weekend. “Important for me to do in the beginning,” one person commented. “I made time for this,” commented another. These same gregarious people immediately centered as they stepped off the porch, rang the bell and entered solemnly. Then, left reflectively. They were quick to “drop in” to the rhythm.
“A solitary practitioner re-dedicating her altar and her self to her path.”
People associated with the AARP Smart Driver Program came. The first walker arrived just before dawn. She walked enthusiastically and left quietly. One couple I had just met unexpectedly at the Mall earlier in the day. The husband noticed Kokopeli in the Labyrinth and showed me his ring and told the story of it. The wife said that she had remembered this was the day her dad died many years ago. So, she had a chance to connect with him and memories. And, all because of a chance (really?) meeting at the Mall shortly before. “Thank you for inviting us. This was anew experience. It (The Labyrinth) is serene and we enjoyed some time there. We need serenity in this day and age.” Thank you, AARP instructors!
From the most extensive conversation here are some reflections: The experience of walking the labyrinth was “‘Not that kind of profound – as in ‘shazam’ . This kind of profound. …’ The second time through this pilgrim felt ‘playful’. She took four items (feathers and tags) and, because she was alone in the labyrinth at that time, even rang the bell three times as she left. However, on her first entry, she was very mindful of others in the labyrinth. Of one in particular she was respectful of that pilgrim’s specific intent and process, stepping aside as they passed. That person reached out her hand and they touched as they walked past. (Companioning). ‘I wanted her to finish in a way that would leave her feeling satisfied. Unimpeded.’ This pilgrim stopped often and did T’ai Chi moves. Picking up a leaf from the magnolia tree she thought that some things get left behind and some need to stay to create space. She was mindful of ‘gratitude’, a word that has presented itself to her several times over the past week. Synchronicity! ‘The Universe if pointing things out to me.’”
Two dear friends came late with ashes of a pet cat to leave. How cool is that! And, being who they are, were totally “OK” with “Oh, we got lost…several times in fact. It was hilarious to us.” They came out smiling, drank cider, chatted and were on their way.
The last pilgrims of the day was an energetic family who walks the LLOTP (The Little Labyrinth On The Prairie – the Prairie Labyrinth at the Indian Creek Nature Center). D1 and D2 gulped cider, wrote tags, ran, jumped, then walked, then sat, returned for more cider and looked. Simply wonderful. Below is D1’s reflection.
“(Dictated by Devany, 7. Typed out/punctuated by Mom)
“One night, we went to Marion’s house (by the way, she’s my mom’s friend). And we went to the labyrinth. The whole reason we went there is to make, like, flags. They’re not really flags, though. We made the flags for the people that we know who died. So first, we rang the bell, which is, when you ring the bell, it’s by the labyrinth. And we walked until we found a spot for our flags to go. And I put my flag after a half minute and then I made another one. When I made the other one, I prayed first, and then, I walked. And I walked. And, I walked until I reached the middle of the labyrinth. That’s where I put my flag. But then, we heard a big crash (but first, I drunk my apple cider). “Oh!” we all said. And then Marion took us down across her house. Then we saw a dying deer. It was suffering. We went in to get Rich. They called the Sheriff and we saw the blood of it on the road. So, we walked into the labyrinth again, and again. And then we made a flag for the deer and then we left to go to our warm house. But first, we got pizza. We were asking all about the deer. And then, we ate our supper, sadly thinking about that deer. And THAT’S the end.”
(MJP comments: Isn’t this just the best! The mother was comfortable having the children observe and the adults explain. The kids wanted to put the “flags” (tags with name on it) in the labyrinth. And, later Rich dragged the deer to the back where scavengers would “recycle” it. The web cam revealed that several deer came by as if to pay respects and a raccoon visited, undoubtedly to spread the word of a feast in the back yard. I expect to hear coyotes in the next couple of nights as they gather round. The only other time I have heard them close is the last time we brought a carcass to the woods.)
For those who could not come because of distance I had sent finger labyrinths, which they later shared that they used during the day.
Some of my thoughts: “The 1080 Laughing Labyrinth is absolutely alive with energy that envelopes and loves each pilgrim. I would like to get a dowsing tool to measure the energy, like we did at Harmony Farm at the Facilitator Training. There the numbers started at 29 or so and when we were done ranged well over 100 revolutions before stopping. Amazing.”
“Interesting trio just now in the Labyrinth: A large “well-developed” buck and two does. More concerned with the carnal that the spiritual, I suspect.”
“One pilgrim thoughtfully walked the entire labyrinth two times. The first to be open. The second time included placing a token where the Spirit seemed to call. Amazing connectedness today.”
“Some of the stories people have shared truly touch the heart. Thank you, all.”
And, at the end of the night, the energy of the Laughing Labyrinth began to ebb and I was ready to stop holding space. So, with a “Thank you”, a glance to the starry night peeking through the clouds, I said good night.