Winter 2017-2018 has been strange and stressful. Extended elder family matters, aggression in politics, yet again a mass murder and the predictable outrage, blame and just plain horror have been among the stressors.
A constant grounding has been walking the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth in the front yard every day since late December. Many mornings I have walked pre-dawn after tending the chickens, fetching the newspaper and before changing to head off to teach.
A certain quality surrounds the early morning hours. The quiet before the stirrings, brilliant stars, the darkness wrapping around me protectively. Some mornings the only sound was the creaking of a tree in a light winter breeze. Walking was grounding.
Even by full daylight, the walks were centering. Noticing the rocks and artifacts as snow smothered them and then retreated under warming skies. How pleasant to take in the winter textures, colors, and aromas of the plants. The Virginia Mountain Mint that holds its fragrance all year is especially refreshing.
On bare, frozen ground. Bracing -20 degrees. Through accumulating snows. Under waxing, full and waning moons. In fog. In thaws. In rain and over the squishy ground. Sunlight and dark of night I walked.
Then, more rains pelted down, melting the snow but not penetrating the frozen ground. Suddenly, the labyrinth was under water! So, I studied the labyrinth daily and carefully plotted a route only to find each day fewer options and more hazards. Walking through water on ice isn’t the best idea, nor is stepping carefully on ice with a trekking pole. So, I adapted.
One side of the Harmony Labyrinth is slightly higher than the other and until recently had been above standing water. I decided to be content walking that side to the center, pausing and re-tracing my steps. On this day, the rain became a deluge for hours. The water rose, threatening to overtop the drive, seeped over all the right side of the labyrinth and spilled into the center.
Bravely I ventured forth only to be foiled within a few feet. Back to the entrance for another go in another direction with the center as my goal. Hmmmm. No luck. I tiptoed on tuffs of grasses and forbs and slid across shallow spots of water supported by my trek pole to a dead end. Back to the entry. Maybe a direct path will work…or not.
Finally, I bit the bullet and plunged through water planting the trekking pole firmly before advancing and found myself in the center. Rather surprised, I paused, looked back, studied the bur oak we planted in the center so full of youthfulness and hope for the spring season, and cut back to the bench to sit. Then, I stepped out of the labyrinth entirely, circled and came back to the entry.
Another day, I made my way carefully to the limestone blocks that mark the halves and tiptoed along them to the center and back out.
It’s all a game now and it doesn’t really matter whether I go to Center or not…and yet, it does matter. Inside. After all, I’ve walked the labyrinth every day for over two months.
I know that the ice will melt in the next thaw. The ground will soften and the water will percolate in. The surface will harden as it dries and soon, plants will begin to poke through the wintered soil. The impasses of snow, mud, water, and ice will be resolved.
Perhaps that is life, too. We meet resistance. Systems are difficult to navigate. After mighty efforts, we end up where we began with no noticeable progress. So, we adapt. Plot a different route. Try something new. Sometimes, we decide to be satisfied with the result as “imperfect” as we may consider it. The impasses and “impossibles” will be resolved.