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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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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