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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Summer life in Iowa is abundant!  We can literally see and sometimes think we hear crops growing.  The landscape is a carpet of varied  greens – soybeans, corn, hay, oats. Moisture evaporates to form clouds, windmills pump water for livestock.  Life can seem deceptively easy and slow.

Wildlife are active dawn to dusk.  Rabbits forage on clover and plantain.  Pileated woodpeckers call from the woods.  Wrens, bluebirds and robins raise a second and sometimes third brood. Fish in ponds gobble up larvae floating on top of the water. Horticulture farmers keep pace with all of this, harvesting fruits and vegetables, getting them to market.

The Laughing Labyrinth is more than abundant and a conundrum.  Little did I realize that the grasses so beautiful with their cascading stems would obscure the path.  The wonderful lilies have little chance of blooming with this competition. Yet, one peeks through the maze of grass with its lovely yellow face.  And, a compass plant has sent up a huge stalk and is setting blooms!

We move through the long days of summer, through the abundance sometimes without realizing how fortunate we are.

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Pink and White Petals

Though sparse, the magnolia blooms in the front yard are still spectacular. An old tree that has seen its share of storms, wind, wildlife making their homes in the trunks and on the leaves and boughs, and using it to polish antlers, it stands spreading and comforting. Victim to a blight, its demise is sad. So I was surprised to see new shoots reaching upward, green leaves just appearing. Tall, hopeful. Like life. We get beat up and when hope has waned, some small gesture makes us smile and realize. Life. Ebbs and Flows. Thank you, Magnolia. I’ll continue to enjoy you with appreciation and wonder as you sprinkle down your lovely pink and white petals.


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2015 Labyrinths

Take a look at Midwestern and Eastern Labyrinths. At first I thought I had walked and connected with only a few labyrinths in 2015.  Then, while selecting them, I realized the year was rich with experiences. Hover on each image for some information.

The farthest west was Nebraska and southeast was Knoxville, TN. North we roamed to the Twin Cities.  All kinds of weather from a broiling hot introduction to labyrinths at the OWAA conference in Knoxville to cold as we installed a stone lined labyrinth with
Denny and Lisa Gidlow Moriarty. A lovely contribution to my Pecha Kucha on Labyrinths at The Gathering at Waycross Retreat Center in Indiana, was the gift of feet from Clare Wilson of South Africa whose son, Sean captured the essence of her labyrinth with two entrances and a center for walkers to come together in reconciliation.  And the sweet, gifts from Teri Petrzalek, and Amy and Mark Ackman of hand crafted labyrinths.

So the memories revive with pictures and reflection.  A good year of connecting, reflecting and discerning.

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Teri’s Art – Fireflies in the Labyrinth

From the Song of Hiawatha that Teri read on the June 2015 Firefly labyrinth walk. Recently she shared two pieces of art work she created as follow-up and in response to a show she heard on synchronized fire flies.  This is a huge event in the Great Smokey Mountains and was happening when we were there attending the OWAA annual conference.

Fire Flies

Teri Ps rendition of synchronized fire flies.

“At the door on summer evenings
Sat the little Hiawatha;
Heard the whispering of the pine-trees,
Heard the lapping of the waters,
Sounds of music, words of wonder;
‘Minne-wawa!” said the pine-trees,
Mudway-aushka!” said the water.
Saw the fire-fly, Wah-wah-taysee,
Flitting through the dusk of evening,
With the twinkle of its candle
Lighting up the brakes and bushes,
And he sang the song of children,
Sang the song Nokomis taught him:
“Wah-wah-taysee, little fire-fly,
Little, flitting, white-fire insect,
Little, dancing, white-fire creature,
Light me with your little candle,
Ere upon my bed I lay me,
Ere in sleep I close my eyelids!”

Full Moon fireflies

Fireflies beneath the full moon.

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Unity Church Prayer-A-Thon 2015

Dobby Ears

Playfully preparing for a centered walk.

Levity and Reflection marked this year’s Labyrinth Walk at Unity Church’s Prayer-a-Thon.

We re-traced the mythology of labyrinths from the spat between Crete and Greece and Theseus’ ADD tendencies   forgetting Ariadne on an island and not raising the white sails so his dad would know he was successful to modern day uses. Fun, portraying Dobby in the Harry Potter books with socks on his ears, was part of the mix as we donned clean socks to protect the canvas labyrinth and prepared to walk. Joyfully we drummed clockwise, opening the labyrinth.

This year’s theme, “Paths To Prayer” lent itself well to a challenging walk.  Rather than walk individually, we held hands and, staying connected, wove our way through the circuits of the Prairiewoods  canvas floor labyrinth.

We each found ourselves closely connected, conscious of each others’ rhythms and needs – a slower pace around corners, importance of adjusting hands, where we “sailed” along and where we got bunched up. Initially uncomfortable, each found this new experience of walking the labyrinth rewarding and fulfilling full of metaphors for us as individuals and a community.

Reflecting after our walk

Reflection boosts retention and can bond a group experience.

Following are two participants’ reflections.

“At first I felt fumbly.  Then, I started to connect with the person in front of me and it became almost effortless.  The turns were the hardest, I guess like in life when it feels like we may be going backwards when in reality, every step we take is going forwards on a different plane. i.e. in the short term we can only see each step – the one in front of us at the time. We must trust that in the bigger picture, each step is necessary and moves us in the direction of a larger goal.

“I liked the feeling of connection with the group.  It was fun knowing even when we were going in different directions we were still connected.

“I am thankful for our slow mindful pace – something I always benefit from doing. Reminding myself that ‘there is no rush’ opens up space and time for possibility to enter.” NS

“I felt a little shaky, off balance in the beginning.  It was uncomfortable, almost painful holding the person’s hands, both in front and back as we made turns.  I felt tense throughout my whole body.  Once I made it to the center and could free my hands again there was an amazing release.” T

Other perspectives on the physical process itself: Everyone felt awkward at first. All like being connected even though it was strange at first. We are all connected for better or worse. Adjusting the pace and how we extended our hands was a constant. Some folks adjusted their hands to the circumstances, thus relieving the tension. The corners, as in life, proved challenging – “I took baby steps”.

Rev. Brenda Ehret plans to incorporate some of the reflections in her service at the end of the 40 hours of “Paths to Prayer.”

For my part as facilitator, I carefully considered this type walk. Because I have presented before I sought a challenge and the theme really spoke to this format. I gave the caveat that each of us will experience some discomfort.  That is OK because it is new. Just allow. So, I walked deliberately with soft knees, kept my focus on steady feet and feeling the hand on my shoulder. By extension being aware of the line’s movement and flow. We did step easily along the outer circles – the straight aways so to speak.  And, we fumbled through the first tight corners then got the hang of walking connected.  Breathing was important – to breathe out anxiety and be re-assuring to all through my movements and demeanor.  As we progressed, ease flowed into each. The reflections and responses were incredible.

What a lovely evening to begin the Prayer-a-Thon 2015.

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