Duluth OWAA Labyrinth Walk

Duluth, MN, is home to at least three labyrinths all registered on The Labyrinth Locator page of The Labyrinth Society’s website. For the past few years I have led walks for Outdoor Writers of American Association members and spouses/partners.  The curious and seekers join me.

In June five pilgrims paused in their busy days and walked two challenging labyrinths.  The McCabe Renewal Center houses a simple grass mowed labyrinth to the side of the large home.  The design is unusual and because it is all grass, walkers had to pay attention to the height of grass to stay on the path. They all did well.  Initial tentativeness gave way to confidence as each walked.  Birds sang gloriously, the wind whispered in the evergreens, yet for one pilgrim, “Time stood still.” For another walker, an issue began to take form and the resolution clarity.

The Forest Hill Cemetery labyrinth is located near one of the buildings and unfortunately, at this time, was in need of weeding and resetting of some stones.  I opted for us to not visit this time because I wanted the novice walkers to have an optimal experience. The manager of the cemetery was kind in his reply to my concern and said hiring adequate crews has been tough and they will get to the needed care.  It can be a lovely place for those grieving and to see it taken care of will be encouraging.

Holy Rosary School  labyrinth is set overlooking Lake Superior in Duluth. This unusual design has at least two ways to enter and then a set of ways in the shape of a + to access the center.  Each walker found her own way in and out. This was a challenge to be individual, have confidence and then return with serenity.

The wind whipped past us, the Lake sparkled, children played in the nearby playground and some teens bounced and tossed basketballs on the court down below.  Although I did remind people that outside noises can be a distraction, we also have a choice to perseverate or allow to pass by us and just accept.

One walker could not concentrate with the external noises.  Another entered and left by different entrances and exits and a third found increased clarity in her situation. She plans to walk another labyirnth close to a family homestead and simply put out to the Universe the situation and ask for openness and guidance.

Overall satisfying and I introduced to two long time Duluthians these amazing resources in their home town.

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1080 Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth Rising

“To every thing there is a season.”

The past few years I have been dismayed at how the 1080 Laughing Labyrinth prairie grasses have taken over the seven circuit Classical labyrinth we designed and created in the front yard.  And, the lovely magnolia tree was dying. What to do?

This winter I decided that after our annual burn, we’d restructure the labyrinth to a five circuit, dual entry. Happens that is a design colleague and friend Lisa Gidlow Moriarty designed.  I must have seen it somewhere because as I began to draw out, based on my seven circuit, the design flowed and seemed to be what the land called for.

In Tom Sawyer tradition, I roped several colleagues and good friends into helping in late March through the dedication in early May about the cross-quarter date that we call May Day. Faithfully they came, staked, marked, suggested, laughed and after cheerfully ate snacks as we reflected.

After the magnolia tree came down, I saved a piece for a friend at her request to make her own finger labyrinth from a cross section. Rich selected a sturdy bur oak to plant in the center. We both check it out weekly and thank it for gracing the center.  It’s doing well and does not seem quite so small anymore with leaves and some growth. It’s a good addition.

I routinely mow the paths, re-adjust flags, string and re-paint strips in bright orange field paint along to mark the paths until vegetation grows up.  Now, it’s pretty easy to find the way.

In July we have two labyrinth programs here at Winding Pathways.  One for employees and members of Bankers Trust and the other for an out-of-town garden club.

Rich and I are amazed at how luxuriant the grasses and forbs are, how many butterflies and birds use the labyrinth.  We saw a mama turkey with her poults scurry along the path. Deer wander through and eat foliage which I have sprayed with stinky deer repellent to keep them at bay. Works some until the rains come. Vultures from the nearby nesting tree wing overhead. Bluebirds perch on the post and bell at the entry.  Milkweed has colonized along the edge. A garter snake cools itself under one of the entry rocks.

So, all in all, the redesign has been successful and a pleasure.  “And a time to every purpose under Heaven.”

Posted in Bell, Birds, Black eyed Susans, Evening walks, Friends, Labyrinth, Magnolia Tree, plants, prairie plants, rabbits, Visitors | Leave a comment

2016 Labyrinths

Check out Winding Pathways for a blog on labyrinths I visited and walked in 2016. I am always surprised at how many labyrinths I actually go to in a year.  Always is my favorite at Regis Middle School in Cedar Rapids.  Overlooking the city, set apart yet part of a complex, it is always comforting and inspiring to me.

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Mercury in Retrograde, Maybe there is Something to It.

Computers and relationships have similarities.  They are shining examples of communication, are complicated and can be imperfect. Take computers.Things move along swimmingly for weeks then, like over the weekend, tasks I’ve done lots of times suddenly don’t work. My inclination is to think that I have done something wrong – hit the wrong key or got fingers mixed up.  So I touch the “undo” key, re-check my work, and try a different browser. Nada. Then, I have tended to get cross. And continue to blame myself.  Then the computer.  Eventually, I turn off the computer, unplug and re-plug the router and modem. turn on the computer….nada encore.

More recently, I have learned to stop, push back, breathe, and choose to do something different.  “This is the way things are right now. It’s OK.” And as a colleague is wont to quip, “Hashtag First World Problem.”  So, I work on lessons, iron, clean up around the house, walk the  labyrinth, or step outside to the cabin where I learn Rich is also having difficulty. It’s not me.  It just is.

Then, ES at the health club mentioned “Mercury in retrograde.”  Difficulty with Communications.  Hmmmm.  While I never have understood any of that, because planets do not really move backwards, and it seems like a convenient scape goat, maybe there is something to it. Because it seemed that “nothing” worked over the past week or weekend. And, today, matters seem OK.

And, I also remind myself that while it will “always be something” I am the one who can choose to stay centered and calm because by doing the opposite – frustration, anger – I hurt myself by releasing negative hormones that stay for hours into my body.

The labyrinth helps calm the beast and give perspective. Heart Math emphasizes that a 90 second break is all we really need to center and re-focus.  Choose and move into a healthier place. As for relationships, it just is right now. Be with the moment with our “shenpa”. Release. Go with the ebb and flow.

From Peter, Paul and Mary:  “Love is always like a river, Love is always passing by. Love must flow on like the river. Try to hold Love back and Love will die.”

May I continue to learn to step into a place of Peace, Grace and Equanimity. With computers and relationships.

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When Words Fail

Adria_Sue_Bottleworks2Labyrinths help when words fail. This year’s election chaos and numbing November leave many dispirited.  So, the opportunities to walk a labyrinth seem to help folks ground, center and keep breathing – ease, grace, joy, empowerment.

How gratifying when I have offered a walk to have people respond positively. A balmy day at Regis Middle School labyrinth with a friend grieving her spouse’s death; reflection on All Saints’ Day followed by All Souls’ Day at The Laughing Labyrinth; peacefulness amid uncertainty at The Gathering of labyrinth walkers at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Houston, TX; personal walks at the Wesley Center ed_wesleycntr_lab_woodwardlain Woodworth, LA and Trinity United Methodist Church in Ruston, LA; and “Tertium Quid: A Third Way Walk” at Bottleworks in New Bo area in Cedar Rapids. Then, back home at the 1080 Laughing Labyrinth.

ed_dousingrodsWhile words were few, the energy measured was palpable and positive.  The dowsing rod consistently swung uncertainly before walks, pointing occasionally to the only energy it knew – me. Then, after the walks the revolutions were assured, quick and many.  From a lazy 19 revolutions to close to 300 revolutions in Houston after we walked the Chartres Replica canvas labyrinth that Lisa Gidlow Moriarty made and actually used in Chartres to a hesitant nine at New Bo labyrinth to 101 energized revolutions.  While I do not understand the energy or how this all works, I know it works!

So, I invite you all to download an image or three of labyrinths and virtually walk them when you feel stressed or uncertain.  When you are calm and peaceful, that works, too!  Or go to The Labyrinth Locator, enter your location and walk a labyrinth. Veriditas is an excellent source of labyrinth information as is Labyrinthos. One of the most fun labyrinth walks is the Appleton Dance done on the Classical, 7-circuit labyrinth.

Go. Enjoy. Center. Calm. Be of peace and goodwill as we navigate these times approaching the winter solstice.


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Trimming Fall Seeds and Attitudes

The 1080 Laughing Labyrinth felt overwhelming this summer as the aggressive prairie grasses dominated over the more sublime domestic and native forbs.  Little mums hardly poked through the tangle. Daisies cowered under the intrusive tall



grass. The sublime Bleeding Hearts barely held their own.

I despaired.  All I seemed to do was cut back as the pathways grew more crowded with stalks lodging into the open space. Rich to the rescue. As seed heads ripened, he leveled the unruly stalks and we spread them in the savanna we have created out back. Suddenly the 1080 Laughing Labyrinth was visible,could breathe, and was appealing again.

Thus, the inspiration for the All Saints Day 2016 Walk. And, what a gorgeous day it was. Each pilgrim enjoyed the walk in his and her own way – reflectively, joyfully, peacefully, observantly.

Magnolia Leaf

Magnolia Leaf

Really, how we think about and choose to respond to matters influences the outcome more than the actual circumstances. As I walked, opening the labyrinth I took in the beauty of the seed heads and realized perhaps the “mess” that I perceived in the labyrinth spoke more about my mental state all summer than the reality of the labyrinth. The grasses show abundance; the forbs tenacity; the narrow path indicates that sometimes our way is restricted and to navigate with grace helps more than resisting. When the path opens a surprise of a new plant re-seeded from the parent lightens the perspective. While it may need to be re-located, the spreading of beauty is encouraging and something I can aspire to.

So, thanks to the lessons of summer abundance and “chaos”, I move into autumn with more confidence and calm.


Goldenrod Seeds in Autumn Sun

Posted in Asters, Black eyed Susans, Evening walks, Facilitation, Invasive plants, Labyrinth, learning, Magnolia Tree, mums, Reflections, seeds | Leave a comment

Indiana Labyrinths

Two University towns in northern Indiana host five lovely labyrinths.  In South Bend, home of Notre Dame University and Valparaiso home to Valparaiso University both just off busy I-80 pilgrims will easily find these exquisite, cared for labyrinths.

Ironwood Road in South Bend bisects I-80 and the labyrinths bookend the intersection. Clay Church sits on a sprawling campus with a pond, gardens and a welcoming curved path leading to the medieval style labyirnth.  Engraved bricks with inspirational sayings and dedications to people sprinkle the paved path. Lilies embrace the labyrinth. Even on a warm morning, the walk was satisfying.

Saint Thérèse Little Flower Church south of I-80 on Ironwood is well named!  Flowers adorn the property and the labyrinth, just off the parking lot, is secluded yet accessible. The entry stunning and inviting.  Late summer the masses of golden Black-eyed Susans beckon.

Wandering into Valparaiso, IN, was a welcome respite from the pounding vibrations of I-80 and the driving rain that was part of the flooding in the southern United States. Valaparaiso University Chapel towers about the unique design by Robert Ferre and  John Unrath. The skills of builder Marty Kermeen inspire awe.  From The Labyrinth Locator website, “Unique design with cross shape at center, gardens interspersed between pathway, “I AM” theme based on Jesus’ “I AM” statements.” The appeal has many facets: the walk itself in a sacred place, the construction, the setting, and the history of the univsersity.

On the north side of campus nestled behind the low set Lutheran Deaconess Association building is a charming classical labyirnth surrounded by ornamental grasses and shaded by evergreens.  Herbs flow from selected areas.  Charming.

The medieval Chartres design at the First United Methodist Church of Valparaiso was indeed a find!  We drove past it because it is sheltered from the road by a hedge.  But, once we learned its location, we were enchanted.  In spite of being downtown, it is quiet.  Accessible. Comfortable to walk. Well maintained.

Enjoy the photos and stop by when you are passing through northern Indiana.

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