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BASKING IN THE BEAUTIFUL GREEN OF BAKERSFIELD

I was thrilled to come to Bakersfield, CA yesterday, where I had an opportunity to join a blessed meditation-yoga class in the morning, then lay out the labyrinth in the delightful Jastro Park in the afternoon.

It was a joy and a privilege to meet writer, publisher, creative coach and advocate Julie JordanScott, who at the last minute graciously made time to greet me, in the midst of her busy schedule working with incarcerated asylum seekers and others. Julie is very inspiring, and made time in her diary not just once, but twice during the day to meet with me.

The labyrinth seemed to settle very well in the park, amid the trees, and shimmering in the dappled sunlight. More positive energy spread, and another giant footstep as it continues its journey north.

In fact, here was the first time that I felt a sense of the “big container” (the circuit around the country that the labyrinth is forming) beginning to be closed, perhaps as the sweep north must take us close to the 75% point in the journey. This gave me quite an awesome perspective on the container that is being formed, and the powerful safe haven within that I believe the labyrinth is creating in its wake.

Julie has a great video blog at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTdYFuvu2nznpM3JjtFrMog, giving wonderful tips on creative writing, and inspirational reflections that are very meaningful and thoughtful (they have certainly helped me – one very pertinently only a couple of days ago).

 

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TRAVERSING THE BIG CITY

I had no offers in response to the feelers I put out to bring the big green labyrinth to LA, so instead, I spent a day and half navigating a journey from east to west of the vast metropolis, laying out the little labyrinth for neighbourhood prayers wherever it felt right. Following earlier stops in Riverside and Running Springs, my stops included Upland, Downey, South Gate, Hacienda Village, Gramercy Park, Westchester, Culver City, and Westwood Village.

Not quite a full “crescent” to the ocean – of my own volition, I would happily have ventured to Santa Monica and whiled away an hour or two by the beach or in a trendy coffee bar, but the “feeling” drove me northward, and the stop-start freeway adventure toward the hills and far away.

 

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LITTLE LABYRINTH IN SAN DIEGO

Stops for the little labyrinth around Coronado/San Diego.

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BRILLIANT BALBOA

I’m running behind with LAA updates, partly because I needed a little”shut eye”, and partly because I’ve been blessed to be enjoying some wonderful experiences. Few compare with the outstanding hospitality extended to me by Jamie and Leslie Edmonds when I arrived in San Diego on Monday–a remarkable setting to lay out of the labyrinth and welcome many people in the city’s famous and beautiful Balboa Park (Jamie generously hosting the labyrinth for several hours, to allow me to explore just a small part of it is many wonders), a guided tour of the city, lunch at a local favourite, and numerous opportunities to lay out the little labyrinth and let it spread its energy.

Were this not enough, another exceptional labyrinth experience was in store – Jamie regularly creates labyrinths in the sand on the beach, including his own cleverly designed Transition Labyrinth. I was awestruck to watch as he carved a perfect path in less than ten minutes, using an improvized tool made from Dollar Store trowels and a paint roller.

To walk this path was a joy, and unsurprisingly, it attracted lots of attention both while we were present and after, until (I suspect) the sea eventually expected to refresh the ground.

Simply inscribing the word “Enter” with an arrow by the labyrinth’s entrance made it clear what passers-by should do!

Jamie says that he often makes several labyrinths up and down the beach (In our case, by the famous Hotel del Coronado, where much of the film “Some like it hot” was shot).

I had a strong feeling that a lot of positive labyrinth energy was spread around the city that day, and judging by the joy and curiosity that Jamie’s creation inspired for some, who knows what seeds of labyrinth love might have been planted?

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RUNNING TO RUNNING SPRINGS

A little diversion today to (hopefully) help water a seed for a new labyrinth wish in beautiful Running Springs, CA. I heard about the desire for a labyrinth hear through this very page, and would like to think that the small footprint of one little labyrinth might help pave the way for another. Maybe not “Labyrinth 911,” but I did feel on a bit of a mission today…

BORDERLINE

Now passing quite close to the US border with Mexico in south-western Arizona, I’ve made a number of brief stops to lay out the little labyrinth on the ground and let it do its energetic work wherever it leaves its footprint. Usually, I have accompanied such stops with the metta prayer, but at times on this part of the journey, that hasn’t seemed right.

How we might lift up players to avoid being divisive and making assumptions about what healing and change may be needed in connection with asylum seekers, other migrants and border protection is the focus for prayer for A Prayer for America (http://www.aprayerforamerica.net/) this month. You can watch my short introductory video suggesting possible “ways in” for prayer here, https://youtu.be/2wW7aEpfUJs.

What I personally experienced today was to observe usually quite discreet border patrol cars some way in land, as well as passing through a couple of control points myself (including on Interstate-8). The patrol officers who wanted to check my ID could not have been more respectful.

The sensitivity of political boundaries came home to me too because I was visiting the territory of the Tohono O’odham people. Theirs is a people whose homeland straddles both sides of the US/Mexico border, and who traditionally have taken the responsibility for being caretakers for the land as a priority, while tending to be suspicious of the concept of privately owned land.

Partly for this reason, I have been very wary about laying out the labyrinth except where it (in this case, the little labyrinth) has felt right–and, as with my helplessness about how to pray for the very live issue of human migration and the border–felt at a loss to know where to focus my prayers for the Native peoples and the land. In this situation, I have just allowed the labyrinth to perform its work.

(Images include a stop en route between Apache Junction and Tucson). Journal note from 4/12.

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LABYRINTH TO LABYRINTH

This past Thursday, I journeyed to Benson, Arizona, having located a ‘man in the maze’ labyrinth on the Worldwide Labyrinth Locator that I felt just had to be walked. Following several hours on the road, I arrived at my destination, and was not disappointed.

Apart from walking the inappropriately named ”maze”*, I laid out my own little labyrinth close by, in order to offer my usual metta prayer.

I then plonked myself on a park bench facing the man in the maze labyrinth, and set about my afternoon meditation. With the little Labyrinth just behind me, and the large man in the maze labyrinth in front, I felt connected in a triangle of centres (hearts). I have often meditated outside the defined path of a labyrinth before, and simply bathed in its energy, but this experience of being in the presence of two was something new to me, and something quite special.

* Inappropriate, that is, depending on your point of view–the Tohono O’odham people with whom this labyrinth is particularly associated see the walk as representative of the sometimes challenging and complex path of life.

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DAY OF REST

I usually like to make Sunday a “day of rest” – not specifically for any religious reason (although the Biblical advice on this seems very sensible to me), but simply to have one day in the week that is different to the rest.

My way of resting is to generally avoid spending too much time online (leaving emails that can wait to be answered), not pursuing work projects unless there’s a need or special reason to, and generally not putting any pressure on myself to do anything in particular!

So it was that today seemed a day for resting from the labyrinth – labyrinth work can be exhausting, having an energy and power that’s often not appreciated – and allowing the labyrinth a rest too. “Just be,” was the hint when I asked in my morning prayer what I should do today.

And so it was – me, a little sun, an out-of-town park, and a quiet spot to lay beside swaying reeds, a gently stroking bush, a couple of swans, and Mother Gaia providing the massaging bedrock for my outstretched body. I’m not always good at just “being,” but when I follow this advice, I’ve never had any regrets. REST. PEACE. BE. May it be so.

GROW UP! SAID THE TREE

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Brushes with Nature occur all the more frequently, I’ve found, when I make time to notice them.

Yesterday, I made a number of roadside stops, to lay out the little labyrinth and offer the metta prayer as I continued with the LAA journey across the Sonoran Desert in south-western Arizona.

Right by where I parked the car, as I was taking the labyrinth out of the trunk, was a beautiful, playful tree, which just seemed to want to stroke my head almost anywhere I stood, swaying excitedly in the breeze. This was a very gentle stroking, and I immediately felt communion with this tree.

So having blessed it, I stood with open arms as if to share an embrace with the tree and asked it if there was something that it wanted to speak to me.

Nothing came for a moment, but then I had a very strong sense that its message was for me to stand upright, deeply planted, and reaching through the vertical zone that’s not governed by linear time–in other words, to stand tall “In the moment”.

This is what trees do, while bringing their wisdom gathered through observation, weathering, battering, and often abuse, over many years

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