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END OF PART TWO

Sadly but necessarily, I’m spending my final couple of days in the US for a month or two, setting my course eastward for the Christmas period to be with my family and others back in the UK.

The past six weeks have been far more powerful than I could realise. Miracles have happened every day; lessons, insights and occasional challenges have featured strongly. Many hundreds have walked, discovered, asked questions about or been touched by the labyrinth in each of the 13 states (+ DC) that it’s visited since this second leg set off from Massachusetts in early November.

I’ve had a strong sense that seeds have been sowed and new connections formed in many of the communities that I’ve visited – not unusually, plans have been afoot for introducing a labyrinth, or one has just been installed where I’ve been. For others and for me, there’s been encouragement to enjoy fresh experiences with the labyrinth, and to have our eyes opened ever more widely to the boundless mysteries that the labyrinth holds.

From remote farmland in western Virginia to a sunny school field in South Carolina, from the windy wide sidewalk of Brooklyn’s Cadnam Plaza to the very center of The National Mall, the large, small, and even smaller labyrinths that I am accompanying on this long journey have made their mark.

My hope is to return to Florida, where this current leg is ending, sometime in February, to start the journey westward. This will most likely be a brief leg, taking in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Of course, I’ll be very grateful for any suggestions that you may have for where the labyrinth may go along that route.

In the meantime, my deep thanks for all the wonderful people who’ve hosted and received me, welcoming and supporting both the labyrinth and I along our way. Thanks to the many who’ve come to walk, including many for the first time. Thanks to the weather for being kind. And thanks to The Great Divine who makes all this possible, and Who alone knows what the great purpose of all our journeys is.

Until February, or whenever I may return…

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ONE LABYRINTH, MANY FAITHS

As many will know, the labyrinth is an archetype that appears in many cultures and faith traditions across history. Indeed, it may be one of the few patterns that can resonate universally.

How fitting then to see that it’s a labyrinth that sits at the centre of a quilt at UU Fredericksburg VA, also depicting symbols representing many of the larger faith traditions.

 

WARMTH AND PROTECTION

Following a chilly few days, it’s a joy to be touched by a little sun again, albeit still with rays beaming down through my rental car windscreen.

Touching rays were also in evidence at UU Fredericksburg in Virginia a few weeks ago, casting a golden embrace around the labyrinth, and offering warmth and protection for all who walked it.

 

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LATE LANDING

I should remember to double check my emails sometimes! Had I done so yesterday, I would have realised that I was waiting in the wrong place to meet Cynthia and Victoria, my patient hosts and companions for a sumptuous brunch at the Fleet Landing Senior Community, near Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville FL. We did connect, but due to my absent mindedness, some twenty minutes or so later than we’d planned.

At very short notice and at an exceptionally busy time of year, Cynthia had pulled out all the stops to make possible a visit of the labyrinth to the lively community of folks from all walks of life who enjoy the charming surrounds of Fleet Landing. I felt sure that I’d very rarely want to venture far were I privikeged to number among them!

The labyrinth looked resplendent in the large hall that has witnessed many events in recent weeks, including an excited audience of former military folks who’d watched the Army / Navy football game on TV the day before!

A good dozen or so joined for our walk, all being familiar with the labyrinth through the excellent publicity that Cynthia had arranged, and the “Labyrinth Explorers” activities that Cynthia and Victoria coordinate at Fleet Landing.

TLS members might remember the stunning photos that were taken here just a few weeks ago, sharing some of the celebration that had been held to mark the opening of a new, beautiful labyrinth here.

With Cynthia’s passion, wise guidance from the very dear Kathryn McLean, and the help of the community, the labyrinth is a wonderful addition to the beautifully landscaped gardens that the good folks at Fleet Landing are blessed to call home.

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WILL IT FIT?

Twice recently, I’ve pondered this question.

Firstly, various options were available at The Delaware Contemporary, where laying the labyrinth down in an active gallery seemed very appealing. However, one little problem stood in our way: navigating the strong steel columns that support the tall roof of this once large shed built for making train locomotives. A retreat to the perfect fit space of the auditorium was required.

Secondly, columns supporting the crypt roof at the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew in Wilmington threatened to present the same problem. But here, there was no alternative space. And so a little lateral thinking was involved – turn the labyrinth onto the diagonal, and yet again, it found its place with near-perfect comfort.

It never ceases to amaze me how often the “right space” has received the labyrinth – often, with barely an inch at the borders to spare! Almost as though we were meant to be where we are…and, of course, that’s precisely what’s been so.

PLANS C AND D

Following an inspiring chat sharing labyrinth stories with Rev Jann Briscoe at St Simon’s Island Presbyterian Church on St Simon’s Island, GA, I wondered whether one of the two, quiet large halls that we’d earlier passed might be suitable for an impromptu visit of the labyrinth.

It transpired that preparations for a concert later in the day were by now underway, hence we turned to plans C and D to locate a free room upstairs. A little tight around the edges, but this didn’t distract from the blessings that the labyrinth gives to all who walk it, nor diminish it’s power in spreading peaceful energy wherever it is laid.

Jann is well advanced in an initiative to bring a permanent labyrinth to St Simon’s, helped in this cause by other visionaries, and the wisdom and deep experience of labyrinth elder Kathryn McLean, whose remarkable work in Florida and elsewhere was an important inspiration for me to pursue the Labyrinth Around America project.

Following our walk, Jann offered a beautiful surprise for me – gifting me a hand crafted stole (scarf), which I’d earlier admired when passing the fair trade Servv stand that occupies one corridor in the church. I’d thought about buying a travelling stole for some time, to use for occasional ministry work “on the fly”. This one, uniquely hand made in Bangladesh, bears virtually identical swirling colours and pattern to the long stole that I wore for my ordination.

Servv’s motto is “creating connections” – something that I’d often felt mine and others’ labyrinth journeys are about, and which Jann and I had reflected upon earlier.

I proudly wore my stole after leaving the island, attracting a few stares at the gas station and “Subway” café where I stopped. The lady at the motel reception desk had to check herself when answering a question that I’d posed…”Yes Ma’am…I mean Sir!” she uttered, as she glanced between me and her computer screen.

Jann showed me the site where she hopes the church labyrinth will go, which was currently marked out with a colourful tape labyrinth. The site seemed perfect, with easy access to the street. God Willing, it will become an important focus for the community here for many years to come.

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REST STOP

The rain that beated down all day eased enough for a labyrinth rest stop on I-95 (near Brunswick, GE).

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SACRED SPACE

The large sanctuary of the Holy Cross Faith Memoria Episcopal Church, Pawley’s Island, SC, with its magnificant tree resplendent in the altar window, and candle lights marking the perimeter of the labyrinth, provided a dramatic setting for a well-supported walk here last night.

Close to 40 people joined together for the walk, as a press photographer snapped photographs, and co-hosts Laura and Amy helped me hold the space. Many warm words were shared by walkers, especially concerning the calm that seemed to pervade in this precious place, barely a few hundred yards from the busy Highway 17.

Welcoming Pastor Will, Amy and Laura pulled out all the stops to ensure that the event went well, while it was my pleasure to share a brief pen picture of the story that had brought me and the labyrinth to this corner of South Carolina.

Holy Cross are hoping to mark out a labyrinth of their own before too long. With a new meditation group now proving popular, the passion of Amy and pastor Will, and the warm feelings shared by many following their walk, I’m sure that it will not be long before a home labyrinth takes form.

BIG LABYRINTH, SMALL LABYRINTH

My miniature labyrinth provided the focus for prayers and being grateful for the boundless beauty of Nature at Brookgreen Gardens, Litchfield, SC yesterday. Here, it’s impossible not to be touched by the smells, sights, and sounds that make this such a special place. And there’s a wonderful “big” labyrinth here too, which offered many precious gifts for me.

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